Spiced blackberry and pear cordial

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The big consolation that summer is over has to be, the blackberries. I can’t drive past a patch without ‘oooohing’ over them and wanting to stop and pick every last one of them. Because we have a lot of wild blackberries growing in the hedges round here, this happens quite regularly and most of the time its not possible to indulge myself. So to my delight on Saturday afternoon, a friend suggested we go pick blackberries in her fathers field and we spent a happy hour in the last of the summer sun, chatting and filling up our tubs with those plump black beauties. I love knowing my freezer if full with bags of blackberries ready for those dark winter days when we need cheering up with a pie or crumble. This recipe would cheer up any winters night…it’s inspired by the southern recipe from America, where a cordial isn’t diluted and most probably contains alcohol!
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SPICED BLACKBERRY and PEAR CORDIAL
600g blackberries
4 pears chopped into small pieces
800 ml water
2 sticks of cinnamon
2 bay leaves
5 cloves
5 peppercorns
250g muscavado sugar
250 ml dark rum ( or brandy )

Put the blackberries, pears, water and spices into a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for half an hour mushing and stirring it every now and then. In a clean pan put the sugar in the bottom and put a sieve over it with a clean sterilised muslin inside. Strain the blackberry mixture through the muslin onto the sugar. Press the pulp to get out all the juice. Turn the heat on under the pan and make sure all the sugar has melted. Then leave to cool completely. Add the rum and mix through. Pour into a sterilised bottle and leave in a dark cool place for two weeks to bring out the flavours…or like me try it out on some ice cream first!
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