Monday, May 3, 2010

Infused Vodka

After a delicious dinner at Thanh Long, in San Francisco, I have decided to try my hand at infusing vodka. Luckily, this is an easy task....something even I might be able to see through to completion. Here are some tips to make infused vodka. I'll let you know how mine turns out (I've already got a long list of flavors to try). Mmm! Wish me luck!

Base Vodka: Choosing a suitable vodka base is key to effective flavor infusion. The more times vodka is distilled, the cleaner and purer it becomes. So try choosing vodkas that are distilled more than three times.

  • If infusing fruit, use 1-3 depending on their size. Aim for about two large apples' worth; one is usually enough for larger fruits (i.e. grapefruit), but you'll need 3-4 for smaller fruits (apricots, plums, etc.)
  • If infusing fresh herbs, use 1-2 fists filled with the herb, depending on its potency. Use about half as much of dried herbs or spices.
  • If infusing berries, use 2-4 fists filled with the berries.
  • If infusing peppers, use as many as you want. The more you use and the longer you infuse, the spicier the end product will be.

Preparing your ingredients: Berry-like fruit, such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, should be left whole. Fibrous fruits like pineapple or mango should be chopped into small chunks and strawberries or citrus fruit, cut into thin slices. Thin-skinned juice oranges or Meyer lemons work best, as excess pitch quickly creates a bitter taste. Vanilla beans should be cut length-ways and herbs left on their stems. Chili peppers can be left whole, or cut i half if you want to increase the rate of infusion.

Directions: Place all of your ingredients together in a clean, airtight container (glass works best). Fill the container with vodka, seal it, and put it some place safe and away from direct sunlight.

Infusion time: It can take under a week for citrus fruits or strongly flavored ingredients to infuse. Softly flavored or fibrous ingredients such as strawberries, pineapple or fresh ginger, can take between one and two weeks.

Approx. 3 - 4 days: Vanilla beans, lemons, oranges, grapefruit, limes, mint, garlic, tarragon, basil, oregano, dill & thyme

Approx. 1 week: Cantaloupes, strawberries, peaches, mangoes, pitted cherries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries

Up to 2 weeks: Whole chili peppers, pineapple, fresh ginger and lemon-grass

If you want to speed up the flavor infusion process, or deepen the flavor, sprinkle a layer of sugar over the top of fruit. Occasionally stir the mixture to dissolve any settled granules.

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