For centuries, the Centerbe liqueur was produced for home use in many locations in Central Italy, and over time was enriched with flavors, according to jealously guarded recipes handed down from generation to generation, so that every family have their own personal version. The Centerbe variants, as always with traditional recipes, are innumerable, and currently the name is used for a number of similar liqueurs, both industrial and home made.
In 1817 Beniamino Toro, a pharmacist and apothecary, who had taken up the local pharmacy, began production of the centerbe, which until then had been a family product, and called it Centerba Toro.
Its special features and claimed therapeutic virtues soon made the liquor famous throughout the Kingdom of Naples, so that during the cholera epidemic of 1884 every day wagons loaded with bottles of Centerba Toro left Tocco da Casauria for Naples.
In this way the Centerba also changed the history of the Toro family and of the small town of Tocco da Casauria, where historically it had its ancestral roots, and became an expression of the nature and traditions of Abruzzo.
- Basil, mint, sage, laurel and rosemary are easy to find and can also be grown on balconies, at home.
- A bit more complicated is to find chamomile flowers, juniper berries and lemon leaves.
- Aloysia citrodora, known also as lemon verbena, originary of South America, is not a common plant and does not grow spontaneously in Italy since it cannot survive too harsh winters, but with some attention it can be cultivated on protected balconies or in greenhouses.
- Cloves, saffron, tea and cinnamon can be found in herbal shops.
One recipe: Ingredients
- 1 liter of pure alcohol for liquors
- 800 ml water
- 600 grams sugar
- 6 leaves of each of these plants: basil, sage, laurel, peppermint, marjoram, tangerine, orange, lemon, lemon verbena, lavender, nettle, mauve, linden
- 1 thyme sprig, 1 rosemary sprig,
- 6 lime flowers and 6 camomile flowers, some rose petals
- 6 cloves, 6 roasted coffee beans, 6 juniper berries (crushed)
- 1 teaspoon of aniseed or fennel seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 bag of saffron
- 1 small spoon of black tea leaves
- 1 nutmeg scratch
- 1 thinly cut lemon skin
Preparation of the Centerbe
- Clean all herbs and flowers, wash them quickly and let them dry on a tray with absorbent paper underneath
- Place into a glass wide-neck jar or container flowers, leaves, spices, juniper and coffee beans, then pour the alcohol and stir well
- Close hermetically and let it macerate in a cool, dark place for about 1 month, shaking the jar once a day.
- After that time, put sugar and water into a large earthenware pan on slow fire and boil always stirring until the sugar is well melted. Continue to boil on low heat until large, viscous bubbles form on the surface of the syrup. Turn off the fire and allow to cool.
- Place a large colander, lined with a filter, on a pot and filter the infusion of herbs; if necessary, repeat the operation until the resulting liquid is clear.
- Pour the lukewarm syrup over all the herbs that remain in the colander, letting it pass into the pot of the alcohol infusion.
- Discard the herbs, gently stir the infusion with the syrup, filter it all again through a cotton gauze.
- Transfer the infusion into clean, dry dark bottles, and tightly seal with new cork stoppers. For better sealing the caps can be sealed by dipping the bottle tops into melted paraffin.
- Let the liquor rest in a dark place for at least 2/3 months.