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Old 08-20-2010, 10:56 AM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2010
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Centerbe is a digestive liqueur from Abruzzo, a region of Italy. It is made by infusing a variety of herbs, as many as one hundred, in alcohol. It has a very high alcoholic content, of which actual strength is debateable. Homemade centerbe can be made by placing orange leaves, lime flowers, lemon verbena, juniper, basil, chamomile, coffee beans, rosemary, pinch of saffron, China tea, vanilla pod, sage, juniper, cloves, cinnamon, toasted coffee beans, saffron, mint, lemon leaves, bay leaves, cardamom pods, mandarin leaves, thyme blossoms, and marjoram in a bottle, pouring alcohol over the whole thing, covered and letting the mixture mind its own business, covered, for about one month, before straining it and adding a sugar syrup. Centerbe is then filtered through muslin or coffee filter papers, finally bottled and corked. Recipe shortly.

And there is Chartreuse.'Elixir de longue vie' or, “Elixir for longetivity”. Be warned, you just don’t to drink this like a regular spirit, or your longevity will be questioned, heh.

Now, while the roots of herbal liqueurs lying in Italian monasteries were originally for herbal medicines of which centerbe came to be, I am wondering if in fact, Chartreuse is really just another fancy name for the same except made in a different country. Okay, Chartreuse is still made under the control of Carthusian monks near Grenoble in the French Alps. Except its formulae contains 130 ingredients (as against 100 for centerbe) that are macerated in alcohol, the same alcohol or ‘eau de vie’, or vodka, as centerbe - except the original Chartreuse formulae is redistilled. I am not even going to contemplate distilling, because I believe that macerating so many herbs in alcohol without redistilling, still produces a very fine concoction, which, when sweetened with honey or a lovely sugar solution, produces a lovely liqueur, so similar to centerbe.

And we can go further. We’re going to make our own “home brew Chartreuse” and just for the fun of it, our very own Centerbe. Just no distilling, or Customs & Excise will come knocking.

Please note Imperial and American ‘cup’ measurements can not be applied to Chartreuse recipes.

Centerbe liqueur recipe

Of course, this does not contain anything like 100 herbs, but it is based on a version of an old Italian recipe duly hand-written by my late grandmother. You can adapt the ingredients to what you can obtain. In the summer there will be far more choice of fresh herbs and flowers, but winter is still a good time to make this delicious digestif for parties and festivities.

A large glass apothecary’s jar makes the perfect place to keep centerbe liqueur while it matures.

570ml / 1 pint vodka
350g / 12oz sugar
400ml / 15 fl oz water
1 whole Clementine, or, small orange, scrubbed
peel of one lime
2 sticks cinnamon
6 cardamom pods
1 vanilla pod
4 juniper berries
a pinch of saffron
4 roasted coffee beans
pinch of China tea
4 cloves
2 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
3 lemon, or, 3 orange leaves
1 tablespoon dried lime leaves
1 tablespoon dried lemon verbena
3 sage leaves
2 sprigs of thyme

Put all the dry ingredients except the sugar and the water into a large wide-necked jar and add the vodka. Try to keep the peel and fruit submerged under the liquid. Leave to infuse for about one month, then strain and add the syrup dissolved in the water, then cooled. Return to the jar and leave for another month. Then filter through muslin or coffee papers, bottle and cork.

Green 'Chartreuse' - 1
5g chopped spinach leaves
45g myrrh
9g mace
60g hyssop
70g glace angelica
10g fresh angelica stems
50g fresh melissa leaves
50g mint
50g orange blossoms
1 litre alcohol (80% abv)
800g sugar

Macerate the spinach in 200ml of alcohol. Macerate the other ingredients in alcohol, in a separate jar, for 2 weeks. Filter. Add sugar and spinach infusion. Age for 1 week. Bottle.

Green 'Chartreuse' - 2
1g star anise
10g coriander
1g sage leaves
1g melissa leaves
1g mint leaves
1g angelica leaves
10g tansy
0.5g saffron
700g sugar
2 litres water
1 litre alcohol 90% abv

Crush coriander and star anise. Chop herbs (except tansy and saffron) and macerate in alcohol for 18 hours. Add tansy, saffron and macerate for an additional 6 hours. Add sugar syrup (700g sugar in 2l water). Filter and bottle.

Yellow 'Chartreuse' - 1
4.5g saffron
1.5g cinnamon
4g coriander
6g melissa
6g fresh hyssop stems and leaves
3g angelica
1 litre alcohol 90%bv
300g sugar

Crush coriander and cinnamon, then add saffron. Place all the botanicals in a jar with lid. Macerate in alcohol for 2 weeks. Filter. Add sugar. Age for several days. Bottle.

Yellow 'Chartreuse' - 2
2g nutmeg
1g angelica root
2g star anise
1g fennel seeds
1g caraway seeds
1g cumin seeds
0.25g saffron threads
1litre neutral alcohol 70%bv
250ml water
1kg sugar

Place botanicals in a large glass jar with lid. Macerate botanicals in alcohol for 3 days. Filter. Add sugar syrup (1kg sugar in 250ml water). Age for 1 week. Bottle.

Here is another which relies just on steeping:

Grand Chartreuse
400ml alcohol 95% abv
300ml distilled water
250g sugar
10g lemon balm (melissa)
5g fresh hyssop
3g angelica root
1g coriander seed
0.5g cinnamon
0.5g mace
0.5g fennel seed
1 clove

Crush spices. Place botanicals in a glass container with lid and macerate in alcohol for 2 weeks, agitating twice a day. Add sugar syrup. Leave for several days. Filter and bottle.

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