Bogs, moors. A small creeping shrub, 30 cm (12 in) high. Leaves: linear, edges rolled under. Flowers: small, pink, April-June. Fruit: shiny black when ripe.
The crowberry trails like heather over some of the northern moors. The berries are difficult to gather in any quantity.
The berries are used in Arctic regions and have some value as a soure of Vitamin C. Some collectors have enjoyed a jelly made from the berries.
Use fresh, wild and fully ripe crowberries.
It doesn't matter if they are small, dry and shrivelled as they can be after a long and dry summer. You can just crush them before steeping.
But remember - steeping time is then a little shorter. So taste it from time to time.
It's very important that you leave the berries to dry for a couple of days in order to get rid of some small ticks which taste extremely awful.
The ticks will just leave their "home" once you start drying the berries.
- Rinse the crowberries carefully.
- Leave them to dry in the shadow - on paper towel.
- If your berries are frozen - defrost them in the vodka.
- Use a clean glass jar with tight-fitting lid.
- Fill the jar with berries.
- Fill up with clear, unflavoured vodka - 40% alcohol content (80 proof).
- Steep for 1-3 months or longer - in a dark place at room temperature, 18-20°C (64-68°F).
- Shake lightly and taste it from time to time.
- Strain and filter your infusion into a clean glass bottle or jar with tight-fitting lid.
You can serve your crowberry schnapps after it has settled for a couple of days.
Or - you can store (age) it for 4-6 months in a dark place at room temperature before serving.
The flavours will change completely during storage. For the better I think. But it's a matter of taste.
Some prefer the young, fruity taste - while others prefer their crowberry schnapps after some storage, when it has a much stronger aroma and taste of berries.