Often with abundance comes a bit of extra activity. Extra guests in the house? A little more laundry and cooking. Extra berries and fruit in the garden or at the farmers market? A bit more canning and preserving.

When it comes to fruit — jelly, chutney and jam making are one way to go, and I highly encourage this. Once you get the hang of it, wintertime toast will be so very soul-satisfying.

Another thought — once the pretty jam jars are all done up, labeled and stored neatly in the pantry — is a more mass-production delicacy called cordial.

Just the name cordial calls to mind for me Victorian-era dresses and drawing rooms with beautiful glasses to receive this rich, syrupy treat. However, since I’m fresh out of Victorian flounce and my drawing room is my family room is my living room, cordial can now be a fresh taste of summer in a glass held on a snowy night in December.

My experience with cordial comes from a friend who has a huge patch of blackberries, and when she’s jammed and frozen to her heart’s content, she turns the rest into blackberry cordial, which emerges Christmas Eve as a traditional gift and treat.

Cordial can be enjoyed on its own, with some seltzer water or in myriad mixed-drink combinations. It has also been known to be enjoyed in our household over ice cream or with pound cake and softly whipped cream.

To make cordial from any berries or fruit is as easy as one, two, three and wait six. Let me explain …



2 cups fruit

2 cups vodka

2 cups sugar

As always, begin with jars and lids that are very clean and have been boiled in water for at least 10 minutes. Prepare the fruit as you would for jam. For example, if you are using peaches, peel, pit and cut into thin wedges. Berries need only a gentle going through to remove any imperfect or undesirable pieces.

Once any peels, pits and brown spots are removed, place the fruit in a bowl, and with a potato masher, smash the fruit to release the juices. Transfer to a large, clean jar and add the vodka and sugar. Stir well until the sugar dissolves and then cover with a clean lid.

Shake well and store in a cool, dry, dark place. For the first several days shake at least twice a day. For the next several days, shake once a day. Thereafter, shake occasionally. In six weeks time, strain the liquid and discard the fruit bits. Transfer to very clean and pretty jars and label.



While all of these extracts are not what most folks normally have on hand, they make all the difference. I was able to find them all at my local grocery store. This recipe was given to me by an exceptional family that sailed with us one year. They own a bakery in Amish country.

Servings: Eight


3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) softened butter

1-1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs (if double, then 5 eggs)

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1/2 teaspoon butter extract

1/2 teaspoon rum extract

1/4 teaspoon coconut extract


1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1/2 teaspoon butter extract

1/2 teaspoon rum extract

1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one loaf pan. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl. Mix the milk and extracts together in a third bowl. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk mixture to the first bowl and mix until incorporated. Repeat and pour into the prepared pan. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a fork inserted in the center of the cake comes clean.

Glaze: Bring all the glaze ingredients to a boil. Pour it over the cake just as it comes out of the oven. Let the cake cool a bit before removing it from the pan.

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea.” She can be reached at:

[email protected]


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