Wild arrow-wood fruit liqueur

Ark of taste
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настойка из калины

Wild arrow-wood (Viburnum opulus) grows along the banks of the Oka River and the surrounding forests in the Moscow, Kaluga, Tula and Ryazan regions. This sprawling shrub produces two types of flowers: on the edge, large five petal flowers do not produce fruit and serve only to attract insects, while inside there are small greenish, nearly petal-less flowers which produce bright red or orange, heart-shaped stone fruits. Arrow-wood blossoms in May and June, and fruits ripen from mid-October to early November. To produce arrow-wood fruit liqueur, the fruits are gathered after the first frost, when they lose their bitter aftertaste and become sweet and especially aromatic.

To prepare arrow-wood fruit liqueur the red berries are cleaned, pressed and stored in glass jars. The high-purity alcohol is mixed with spring water and poured to cover the berries. The jars are closed and left in dark place at room temperature for two weeks. After that period, the liquor is filtered and local honey is added. After another day, it is ready for consumption, but improves with age when stored refrigerated or in a cool cellar.

Arrow-wood is a popular plant referenced in Slavic songs and fairy tales. In Russia, the flowers symbolize beauty and innocence, and were often used to decorate homes during weddings, while the arrow-wood itself symbolized married women and motherhood. Today, the liqueur is produced mainly for home consumption or for sale in local restaurants, but not for retail sale.

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