Category Archives: Home-made liquors

Kumquat Vodka

After Seville orange, kumquat is my second fruit discovery of this year and kumquat vodka is my first infused vodka in 2012. Kumquat is not what I would call a popular fruit in Europe. Even though it has been sold in supermarkets for several years, its price is usually very discouraging and its use is mainly restricted to fancy restaurants and confectioners. Kumquat is native to Asia and its name comes from the Cantonese word meaning “golden orange”, but now it is grown on other continents too. For those who haven’t tasted it, kumquat has a size of a big olive, it has a thin, surprisingly sweet peel and contrastingly sour flesh and juice. Apparently (thank you, Ping, for this precious information!) they get sweeter if left to fully ripen, but mine were probably used too quickly…

When I bought a bag of reasonably priced, organic kumquats, the first thing I did was eating some of them raw, but I also wanted to experiment  at least with a cocktail. Since the fruits were not very juicy and it was a pity to discard the edible peel, I quickly decided to make a kumquat-infused vodka. I have been infusing vodkas (and sometimes gin) for over a year now and I encourage everyone to try doing it. From my short experience I can say disappointments are very rare and the pleasure of serving or offering home-made liquor to friends and family is immense. The process of infusing alcohol is also a bit magical, because the taste usually changes with time (in general it improves), so something which appears as a complete failure may turn into a surprisingly good beverage after a year. For those who want to start to experiment, I would advise Mandarin Peel Vodka which is not only one of the quickest to prepare (it takes only 16 days before it’s ready to drink), but it allows us to use up mandarin peel. My last year’s Mandarin Peel Vodka is so delicious, I’m making a second batch this year.

Since this is my first kumquat vodka, I have no idea how it will taste, but I think that sweet peel and acid juice might give an interesting beverage. I will update this post after the first tasting. I have based the below recipe on my Mandarin Peel Vodka and combined it with methods and advice found on different forums.

TIP: Infused vodkas usually improve with time, so if you don’t like the taste. Put the bottle into a cupboard and taste it once more after a couple of months. Even if it tastes great, reserve some for later and observe how the taste changes. It’s best to “forget” about the vodkas for some time and put them somewhere where they are not visible every day.

Preparation: about 1 1/2 month minimum

Ingredients:

300 g kumquats

500 ml vodka (or 250 ml 90% alcohol diluted with 170 ml boiled and cooled water and then kept together for two days in a jar before infusing)

100 g sugar (or the double if you like sweet alcohols)

Wash the kumquats, discard the green twigs and cut the fruits into quarters or slices.

Put them in a big jar or wide-mouthed bottle and cover with the vodka or the mixture of 90% alcohol and water.

Leave the tightly closed jar in room temperature for a month.

After a month drain the fruit and reserve the infused alcohol in a closed jar or bottle.

Put back the fruits into the jar and cover with the sugar.

Shake the jar every day so that the sugar dissolves easier.

When the sugar has completely dissolved (after a couple of days), pour the reserved vodka over the fruit and syrup mixture  and leave it to infuse once more for seven days.

Afterwards filter it into a bottle (for example through a coffee paper filter or a piece of gauze plied in 4).

The vodka can be drunk straight away, but it should improve with time, so taste it every month and observe the taste and aroma changes.

Quince Vodka

Last week, observing Charles’ numerous adventures with quince, I realised I had almost forgotten to talk about my last year’s quince-infused vodka, which, after a year’s aging has become an subtle, highly aromatic, slightly sweet and beautifully, amber-coloured drink. I know quince (Cydonia oblonga) is not very popular worldwide, so for those who have never seen it, here is a photo of a ripe and big specimen I took last year:

Quince’s form is a cross between a pear and an apple. The fruit is usually covered in whitish fuzz, which is easy to remove. This magic fruit is practically inedible when raw due to its excessive tanginess, but, once cooked or transformed, it gives miraculous results. This is mainly due to the quince’s complex and strong aroma, slightly reminding delicate honey, but also to its tanginess, particularly appreciated in preserves. Apart from the quince infused vodka, I have made two absolutely fabulous preserves: quince jelly and quince sauce. Both have a strong aroma, beautiful colours and a very subtle pleasant taste.

I have got the below vodka recipe from my mum, who learnt to make it several years ago when one of her friends started to give her quince from her orchard. I have slightly modified it, browsing through the home liquor makers. Contrary to certain fruit-infused vodkas, this one requires lots of patience, but it’s totally worth it.

If you want to make a fruit-infused vodka ready to drink very soon, I recommend the Mandarin Peel Vodka, which is very easy and gives a very aromatic and impressive results. Orange Vodka is not as spectacular, but also excellent, while the frozen Sour Cherry Vodka is extraordinary, impresses every guest and can be prepared all year long.

Preparation: 3 1/2 months

Ingredients:

500 g quince

500 g sugar

at least 750 ml vodka (see the exact amount below)

Wash the quince, taking off the white fuzz. Cut the fruit roughly into pieces, removing the pips and the stalks (also the remains of the flower), but without peeling.

Put the quince into a big jar and cover with the sugar.

Place the jar in a warm (not hot) place for 4 weeks, shaking every day so that the sugar is well dissolved.

After 4 weeks, strain the juice, weigh it and put into the fridge.

Put back the quince pieces into the same jar and cover them with vodka, (the same weight as the juice you have previously put into the fridge).

Leave in a cool place for 45 days.

Strain, combine with the juice.

Pour 500 ml vodka over the remaining quince and wait one more month before straining it and combining with the previously infused alcohol and juice.

Bottle and wait a couple of months before tasting (keep it somewhere you will easily forget it).

The fruit can be used in cakes (whole or mixed into a sauce).

Quince Vodka on Punk Domestics

Black Currant Vodka

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The Apricot Gin recipe I posted two weeks ago led to very interesting discussions about home liquor making with Charles from 5 Euro Food. They resulted in his first experience with a very promising Cherry Brandy and made me feel like making more fruit liquors this Summer.

Browsing through forums and websites I realised most home liquor makers cited blackcurrant vodka among their most successful and palatable productions. I have also read that blackcurrant vodka has healing properties. It is supposed to regulate digestion, cure the throat ache and even help with respiratory problems. Needless to say, I have very high expectations of this miraculous beverage!

This method, a classical two-stage process,  needs a bit more attention than the Apricot Gin. As all the home-made liquors this one requires patience and since after the final filtering it has to be left untouched for at least 3 months, I strongly advise keeping it in a closed place when it can easily be forgotten. It will of course improve with time!

After two days, the opened jar already spreads an enticing fabulous aroma, the most beautiful I have ever experienced with a home-made liquor. I am looking forward to see the changes in a couple of months!

Update: Having tasted the vodka during the the last stage, e.i. bottling, I must say it’s breathtaking! It’s tangy, but not too sour, elegant and the high alcohol content is imperceptible. I cannot imagine what it will taste like in three months’ time.

Update 2: I lack words to describe it. This is definitely the best infused vodka I have ever made. It’s even the best home-made alcohol I have ever tasted. Next year I will make several big batches.

Preparation: min. 4,5  months

Ingredients:

600-700g black currants

700 ml white vodka (or 90% alcohol diluted by half with boiled and cooled water, kept together for two days before the fruit addition)

150 g sugar

150 ml water

Remove the black currant stems and dry ends (this can be a bit time-consuming and the best method is to use small scissors). Put them in a big jar and cover with vodka.

Leave in a warm place for 6 weeks.

Drain the infused vodka and pour into another big jar.

Make a syrup boiling the water with the sugar.

Pour the cooled syrup over the infused vodka.

/Do not throw away the fruit! Either use it in a cake or pour some more alcohol and make a “secondary” vodka infusion./

Leave the vodka and syrup mixture for one week in a dark place.

Filter through a coffee filter or a piece of gauze folded into 4 pieces.

Pour into a bottle, close it tightly and do not taste before 3 months.

Black Currant Vodka on Punk Domestics

Apricot Gin

apricotginpI am terribly sorry for all those who hate apricot, but this year it simply doesn’t disappear from my kitchen. Since I am a big apricot fan and since this year it is particularly abundant on my market (read: cheap), I keep on buying it, eating, transforming, preserving… And I can’t stop myself from relating all this on my blog.

Some of you might have noticed my preserving hobby also includes home liquors. Home made liquors aren’t a copy of those available on the market. Their aim is to create something new and special and among the home liquor makers rarely two identical bottles can be found. Making liquors at home is very simple, but requires a lot of patience (especially in the case of certain, slowly maturing ones). After straining the best idea is to put the bottles in a place where they will be easily forgotten, since a young disgusting liqueur sometimes changes into a divine beverage in a year.

I have already posted a sour cherry vodka (the definite number one), orange vodka, prune vodka and mandarin peel vodka (incredibly good!). All the home liquors need to mature, some hardly a couple of weeks (mandarin peel vodka), some at least a year (prune vodka), but they are rarely a disappointment and, apart from being drunk as a digestive or aperitif, they might be a very original ingredient in cocktails.

Two days ago I realised I haven’t made any apricot liquor yet and since apricots are particularly aromatic, I thought it’s high time I tried it. I already had the fruit, so I went  to buy a bottle of gin and after a couple of minutes the liqueur making process started! Since this is the first time I make it, I can’t tell you what it will taste like, but I something tells me it will be a hit! I will update this post after my first tasting, in two months.

I opted for a rather dry liquor (the sugar is there only because apricots are tart), but more sugar can be added (up to 350g) if you prefer sweet alcohol.

Preparation: 10 minutes + 2 months before the first tasting

Ingredients:

700 g apricots

700 ml gin

100 g sugar

Wash the apricots, pat them dry.

Cut the fruit in two pieces and put aside 5 kernels (throw away the rest).

Put the apricots and the kernels in a big jar.

Cover with gin and sugar.

Place in a dark place and shake every day to help the sugar to dissolve.

Strain the fruit after two or three months.

Filter the liquid through a coffee filter or cheesecloth.

Put into tightly sealed bottles.

Taste straight away or wait three more months before drinking it.

It will improve and change in time, anyway, so it’s always good to save at least a part of the liqueur for a later tasting.


Apricot Gin on Punk Domestics

Orange Vodka

Delighted with the successful results of my mandarin peel vodka made with leftover peel, I decided to use up orange zest in a similar way. Since the oranges have a very bitter white pith, they should be peeled very thinly with a vegetable peeler so that only the orange part is used. Since, contrary to the mandarin peel vodka, the white pith is absent here, I decided to keep the zest with the alcohol a bit longer. I have also decided to change a bit the proportions.

UPDATE: after three months the vodka is fantastically warming, only slightly sweet, with an aroma reminding me vaguely of Cointreau (which of course is much more complex!). Less charming than the mandarin peel vodka, however. I have only tasted it alone, but I already see it as a great Cointreau substitute in certain cocktails…

Preparation: 23 days

Ingredients:

2 medium oranges

100g caster sugar

700 ml 45% or weaker alcohol (I diluted 300 ml of 90% alcohol with 400 ml boiled and cooled water and kept it together for two days in a jar, obtaining approx. 37,5% alcohol)

100 ml water

Peel the oranges with a vegetable peel, keeping only the orange part of the zest. Dry the peel (for example on a radiator) and stop drying as soon as it cracks (it took me 24 hours).

Put the orange peel in a big jar. Pour over the alcohol or the alcohol+water.

Close the jar. Put it in a warm place (here radiators are useful once more, but don’t put the jar directly on them!).

After one week strain the peel and throw it away, keeping of course the infused alcohol!

Prepare a syrup with the sugar and the 100 ml water.

When it’s still hot (but not boiling), pour gradually the infused alcohol,  stirring.

Pour the vodka into a bottle. Close it and store in a dark place for two weeks.

Filter it (for example through a coffee paper filter or a piece of gauze plied in 4) into another bottle.

Close it well with a cork or a screw cap (or taste it straight away!).