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- Recipe for Ptarmigan schnaps

Ptarmigan schnaps is a distinct but tasty alcoholic drink. Personally it is one of my favourite kind of schnaps. Some say that it is the true taste of Greenland. Although the name might insinuate it, it is not made from the bird itself. In stead this schnaps is made from the herb content of the birds crop. The crop is a sack inside the bird used to store food before this is transported further into the birds digestive system. It is believed to store food that is being collected in a hurry. Food stored in the crop is therefore not in a process of digestions yet.

Now that we have been so fortunate to get ourself a few rock ptarmigans, we surely also need to make our own rock ptarmigan schnaps.

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First of all you need to get a few ptarmigans. In Greenland we have rock ptarmigans (Lagopus muta) but I would think that any ptarmigan species will do and the flavour will just change accordingly. It is the content inside the crop that we are after. The volume inside this can vary a lot but normally it is easy to find (but see here for some help). The crop is a large sack in the chest of the bird, filled with herbs, twigs, berries and the such depending on the season. One need to take care not to damage the crop when processing the bird. If the crop ruptures (and blood is mixed with the herbal content) or if the crop has been damaged by the bullet it can not be used, unfortunately. 

Once the crop has been safely removed from the bird, its content can be placed in a jar or a bottle. This is then filled with a tasteless strong alcohol such as clear schnaps (e.g. "klar Brøndum) or vodka. What you want to use depends on your personal preference. The volume of added alcohol depends on the volume of crop-content. Normally we use around ½ litre of alcohol per bird. Then you leave this mix for a few months somewhere dark. The exact period is somewhat debated and the best approach is to try-taste it along the way. I would say that it can be left like this for about 6 months. When the mixture has been sitting for a suitable period (and you a satisfied with the taste) it will have achieved a nice dark golden colour. Then the mixture is filtered over a coffee filter or similar, and it is ready to be enjoyed. However, the longer this extract is left to sit the better the taste (we are talking years). If the taste is to strong some of the extract can be diluted (with the tasteless alcohol) just before it is to be enjoyed.

- No ptarmigan schnaps taste the same. This all depends and what the bird has been feeding on, where and time of the year. This is what makes this schnaps so good an special.

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If you have a bit skill it is also possible to fill the crop with air and tie some string around it. Leave this to dry for a bit and you have yourself a fun and different piece of Christmas or Easter decoration. Just note that you wont be able to make schnaps from this particular crop.