This year I only got a few blackberries so I put them in a pint jar and pour vodka over them. I put them on the kitchen counter for a while. When I was happy with the look of the jar I strained the contents into another jar and used the remaining "pulp" of the blackberries in some muffins.
Recently I took the tops off strawberries, what would normally go into the trash [strawberry and leaves]. Then put them in a pint jar with some vodka. Put the lid on and give it a shake. Set on the counter and let the fruit infuse for 2 days, don’t really need to go longer than that, then strain and store in the fridge for up to 1 week [if it lasts that long]. Use in whatever drink you’d normally use vodka in for a nice strawberry zing zing. Flash forward two days and I had the nicest blush colored vodka with the perfect hint of strawberry.
What is your favorite liqueurs?
Invasive plants are Earth's way of insisting we notice her medicines. Stephen Herrod Buhner
Everyone learns what works by learning what doesn't work. Stephen Herrod Buhner
An ultra-easy (although not uber-permie) recipe that I use for making coconut rum is one bag of sweetened coconut flake mixed with a 1.75L bottle of rum. Let it sit for at least a week and then enjoy. The end product is at least 10X better than the major brands.
Making liqueurs is one of my first go-tos with flavorful wild fruit that has cosmetic or texture defects. Basically I just chop or mash lightly to expose a lot of fruit surface area and release juices, and then cover fruit with 100-proof vodka (the cheapest available). I let that sit for about a week (longer is fine but doesn't make a better product) then filter out the fruit. I like to make heavy sweet liqueurs so I will typically add 1-2 cups of sugar per 750ml bottle, but this is purely optional.
I just finished my one bottle of blackberry liqueur from the summer and am starting in on a bottle of crabapple that I made a year ago.
Darnit - here I am, on my way to go do something in Kitchen forums, and I see this thread and get distracted. What a cool idea!
I've been growing some chocolate mint in my yard, enjoying its natural tendency to divide and conquer, even in this harsh climate. Even now after a few snows, we still have so much around, I was thinking of trying to make up some peppermint schnapps with it. I actually have a friend that started a still up the road, and am thinking of trying to nab a few fifths of his stock to give this a try.
I guess you'd do it in pretty much the same manner, except maybe using a few changes of leaves, and letting it steep longer? Not to split hairs, but I think this is just called an infused vodka, and for it to be liqueur, there would have to be a sweetener of some sort.
I think I may just attempt to make those homemade peppermint schnapps after reading this post, what a great Christmas gift idea!
I soak allspice leaves in vodka to make my own allspice flavoring for cooking. I've also done it with peppermint and chocolate mint. I usually let the leaves soak for about a month before removing them.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
The farmers here will distill grain alcohol from about 500 liters of water, 20 kg of corn, lots of sugar with some yeast.
I trade for the alcohol, mix with lemon peels. age for 6 months and it is some of the best lemon alcohol there is.
Maybe I'll try to scale down the grain recipe and make mine fully from scratch.
I do it like this:
fill a jar with fruit (for the damsons I jab them with a knife first)
add sugar - how much depends on how sweet and sticky you like it
top up with Vodka - no need for it to be good stuff but I avoid the cheapest
leave for several weeks, turning upside down every day
For quince vodka I would cut up the quinces first so they'll fit in the jar
The vodka could be any clear spirit really. I don't think it improves much after the first few weeks, but some of mine is for a christmas present so I daren't open it yet!!
I make various combinations of infused flowers and fruit using plum brandy (sliwowitz) or pear brandy as a base since there's a surplus of both in the village and we have a large old pear tree.
Over the last several years these have become popular with visitors:
- elderflower and only a a little lemon peel (it's an accent, not the main act like in limoncello)
- mulberry with some raspberries and/or red currants for an acid note (mulberry is very very sweet on its own, no need to add sugar)
- aronia and cloves
Apart from these three above which some people really fell in love with, the following two are also popular:
- black+red currant (the black part is very important; also, this definitely does need sugar)
I also make other flavors - limoncello (with optional lavender), nocino, sloe gin which is actually sloe sliwowitz (this is appropriate since the sloe bush = blackthorn = prunus spinosa is the grandfather of all plums), apricot, elderberries and grape... But the ones listed above seem to be the favorites.
Mint is something everybody is very impressed with at the first sip (really strong stuff, I think dentists would be a good target market - local anaesthesia but somehow it never gets to the third one. I'm told basil can be excellent but I haven't tried it out yet. Black locust flowers were blah which was a surprise because in other uses - syrup, fries - they can be used to the same effect as elderflowers.
In my experience it takes a year for these infusions to become good (remove plant material after 3 to 6 months, then add optional spices like cloves, vanilla, cinnamon, extra sugar if needed etc and let it age) - and two years to become really very good (if the particular combination was a solid idea in the first place).
Anything more can be a bonus or a step back, depends. The character of some flavors really changes a lot over time, especially aronia and nocino. At the moment I'm out of aged stock because my brother recently got married to a Russian girl and the drinks lab took severe casualties I understand that sloe gin and nocino are supposed to only get better with age and if you come upon a bottle that's a decade old, it's a revelation.
Here's also some things I do NOT like to do:
- Pouring fresh alcohol over already-steeped material to produce a second batch. Why not: because usually a certain fruit or flower or leaf has a varied set of aromas and by the time the first pouring is made, some of them may have been leeched out entirely. So it can easily happen that the new batch will not be close in taste to the original one. Beware.
- Using lots and lots of sugar. Some people really do like their stuff super sweet. But in my experience adding a whole lot tends to drown out the plant aromas and I don't see the point of that.
My favorite is raspberry liqueur, 1 Gallon glass jug, 1 pound of sugar, fill with raspberries, then fill up with really good vodka. Set in cool dark place for a year. I don't drink very much, so have to be careful with this, it's so good it's easy to forget how strong it is. Berries are great over ice cream. Only problem I ever had was trying to convince family to use that many raspberries for liqueur rather than jam!!
Forgiveness is easier to obtain than permission
My PEP Badge Tracker: An easier way to track your PEP Badge Progress