Mirto distinctive bright purple

A glass of Mirto

 

If you’ve ever been to Sardegna (or Sardinia as it’s called in English) chances are you’ve tried Mirto, the liqueur made from the berries of the myrtle plant.  If you’re Sardinian, like me, then it’s a tradition you’ve known from childhood. The steps to create Mirto are like a ritual for Sardinian people. The whole family is involved!

 

A little girl eats mirto berries as she gathers them

 

I remember with pleasure those days, as a child, when my family made Mirto. It was like a vacation. We usually started really early in the morning, and by early I mean 4/5 am. We used to go into the hills near my house to gather the berries. Next step was to take them back to the house and clean them, then my job was finished I could amuse myself watching my dad and the other men squeeze the berries with the press.

 

A wooden instrument used to gather mirto berries

A professional Mirto press or torchio

 

It was a long and tiring process and in the meantime I used to snack on peanuts or help my mum to prepare the lunch for everyone!

After pressing the mirto berries, the Mirto juice is ready! Last step is to mix the liquid with alcohol and sugar and wait some months to be ready!

From mirto berries to mirto juice

 

As with all traditions, the origins of this product are ancient. The liqueur obtained from the sun berries, or berries and leaves, is part of Sardinia’s folk traditions.  The red berries are considered the most valuable. Several sources trace the origins of this liqueur to the nineteenth century.

 

Mirto plant

Mirto Bush

 

 In families wine was produced from steeping an elixir of ripe berries. The berries were macerated with a mixture of alcohol and water or brandy and water.  After marinating the berries, the resulting liquid was combined with sugar or honey to sweeten it.  It was then ready for the table.
It’s worth taste it at least once!It’s a perfect after lunch liqueur!
Recently Italy passed a law declaring that Sardinia’s mirto is one of Italy’s official Traditional Products and therefore is officially a part of Italian vintage cultural heritage!

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