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Infusions, Extractions & Tinctures at Home: The Topic


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#361 lesliec

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 12:17 AM

This isn't strictly speaking an infusion, but I don't think we have a 'distilling your own stuff' topic - possibly because it's illegal for most of the world.

 

But not my part of it.

 

So ... look what I made this afternoon:

 

Colonel Hawthorne's Gin.jpg

 

I've had a still for a couple of months now, but this was my first gin run.  For those who know about the technicalities, it's a StillSpirits T500 reflux still, which purists will tell you shouldn't be used for gin (reflux stills make extremely high-purity vodkas, which are then commonly flavoured and watered down to something sensibly below the 95% alcohol they can produce.  Yes, that does say 95%.  190 proof!).  However, I was determined to at least try, so I replaced some of the ceramic saddles in the column with a bag of botanicals and let it rip.

 

By 'de-tuning' the still like this I ended up with a mere 89% alcohol(!), which at the end of the process I took down to 40% with distilled water.  The botanicals I used were juniper berries (if it ain't got them, it ain't gin), coriander seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, orris root, chamomile, liquorice root, angelica root, orange and lemon zest and dried kawakawa leaf, a New Zealand native.

 

The result - highly successful.  It's clear, it smells good, it tastes good.  I can't compare it to a commercial gin - I clearly haven't tried enough of them - but it's quite a strong, oily taste (not in a bad way).  I have yet to give it the ultimate test of using it in a G&T, but I'll report when I have (it will probably be tomorrow).

 

Oh yeah - who's this Colonel Hawthorne?  C'est moi - he's my steampunk alter ego.  Colonel Sir Julius Hawthorne, Her Majesty's Air Privateers (retired), since you ask ...


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#362 lesliec

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 06:51 PM

And an update to the above: on the basis that the sun must be over the yardarm somewhere in the world, we enjoyed a pre-lunch gin and tonic.

 

Rather good.  As Wifey described it, it's as though the bitters were already in there.  I know what she means.  It's quite a floral taste; I could maybe dial it back for a future run but it's really nice, particularly for a first attempt.

 

I've kept scrupulous records, so it should be reproducible.  Started a new ferment this morning ...


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#363 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 04:02 PM

So you are saying that home distillation of alcohol is legal in New Zealand? It sounds like you are having a lot of fun here - homemade vermouth and now home-distilled gin. Very jealous.



#364 Adam George

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 05:41 PM

Amazing.
I wish I could do the same.

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#365 lesliec

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 06:57 PM

So you are saying that home distillation of alcohol is legal in New Zealand? It sounds like you are having a lot of fun here - homemade vermouth and now home-distilled gin. Very jealous.

 

Yep, entirely legal.  If I wanted to sell it I'd have to jump through some excise tax hoops, but I can certainly make it for myself, or to give away to friends/acquaintances/total strangers.  New Zealand is one of very few countries where home distillation is legal.  There's a movement in the US (see here if you're interested) to put it on the same footing as making one's own beer, which seems reasonable - home distillers don't make any more alcohol than home brewers, we just make a much lower volume of higher-strength alcohol, which is then watered down to make it drinkable.

 

My amaro has been my number one triumph so far, followed by the gin.  The vermouth is a separate project, really; I didn't make the wine it's based on.  And yes, I'm having a heap of fun.  The next ferment is bubbling away happily.  I shall report further.

 

Oh look - my 500th post to eG!


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#366 Plantes Vertes

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 08:24 PM

Amazing.
I wish I could do the same.

 

Adam, I think you can; you just need a license. Details here.



#367 lesliec

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 09:00 PM

Amazing.
I wish I could do the same.

 

Adam, I think you can; you just need a license. Details here.

 

That's probably similar to what I'd need to do if I wanted to sell the product.  But these UK rules are intended for 'proper' distilleries, not home operations:

 

We may refuse to issue a licence, or revoke an existing licence, where:

- the largest still to be used has a capacity below 18 hectolitres

 

18 hectolitres = 1800 litres, by my calculation (= 475.5 US gallons).  That's rather a lot - my still can handle just 25 litres at a time!


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#368 Plantes Vertes

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 10:16 PM

You're right, that is what they were designed for, but it's still possible to obtain a license for a (sometimes much) smaller still, like Sipsmith gin (300l), Oxley gin (90l) or Sacred gin (6l and 2l). But you do have to prove you're serious and safe. I know Adam is... well, at least serious about his gin :wink:

 

ETA but I absolutely concede, the license would be a heck of a pain to get.


Edited by Plantes Vertes, 27 August 2013 - 10:26 PM.


#369 Plantes Vertes

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 05:51 AM

I thought this might grab Londoners with an interest in gin. Or, as the site would say, a ginterest. I am sorry about that.... As I gather, you can custom blend your own gin.


Edited by Plantes Vertes, 31 August 2013 - 05:53 AM.


#370 lesliec

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 07:47 PM

I had a new batch ready for distillation on Saturday, so here are a couple of things I'm doing with the results.  In passing, I had some difficulty deciding where to post this - we have this topic, another called Homemade Liqueurs which would also be appropriate, and a specific one on Amari.  But since I started talking distillation here I decided to continue.

 

I made a fantastic Amaro with an earlier batch of spirit.  It's now mostly gone (I only made a litre), so it was high time to start another one.  First, the flavourings:

 

 Amaro1.jpg

 

This is aniseed, gentian root, allspice, cloves and fresh rosemary, sage and mint from the garden.  One difference from last time: I've used 'proper' aniseed this time rather than star anise. It will be interesting to taste the difference.  Everything gets beaten up somewhat in the mortar, then added to the full-strength (91% in this case) alcohol along with some fresh orange and lemon peel:

 

Amaro2.jpg

 

Now I have to wait three weeks, shaking frequently (shaking the jar, that is; I'll try not to be too shaky myself) before adding sugar syrup. Then another two weeks before filtering and bottling, after which it continues to smooth out (if allowed to) in the bottle.  Just have to drink other things in the meantime.

 

I also started some mandarin liqueur:

 

Mandarin.jpg

 

Three mandarins, suspended in muslin above the surface of a litre of alcohol.  Apparently that's enough to get sufficient taste, and even a bit of colour, into the liquid.  After two or three weeks this also gets sweetened/diluted with sugar syrup.  I shall report further when it's ready to go.


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#371 lesliec

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 08:36 PM

I find I have been remiss in providing updates on the progress of my various concoctions.

 

The second batch of amaro was similarly successful to the first.  There's a subtle difference between the star anise and aniseed versions that I can't quite put my finger on, but both are good.  I've subsequently made something else slightly similar which was less successful - the main difference was bay leaves, which totally dominate.  It's quite drinkable, but the amaro is much better.

 

The mandarin liqueur is fabulous stuff and I'm now on batch 2 of that.  Contrary to the illustration in the book I took it from, it doesn't pick up any colour from the fruit, but the amount of taste it pulls out is amazing.  Both times I've made it it's gone cloudy when the syrup hit the alcohol (there is no doubt a good reason for this, which haven't bothered to research yet), but it clears over the next few weeks.  Delicious.  On the off chance of achieving something wonderful I tried the same 'suspend the fruit over the alcohol'  trick with peaches, but all I got was wrinkly peaches.  Seems it's dependent on the oils in the skin of citrus.

 

Today, having finished off another run through the still, I've started a batch of Jerry Thomas's English Curaçoa (sic).  This again will be a second attempt; the first one worked just fine and I'm not changing much (if anything).

 

And finally ... any guesses what this is (or will be)?

 

Liqueur.jpg


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#372 ChrisTaylor

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 08:40 PM

Do you, er, distribute small quantities of your gin?


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#373 lesliec

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 08:47 PM

Do you, er, distribute small quantities of your gin?

 

My problem is there are only ever small quantities, full stop.  As we speak, there is none at all.  (But a new ferment has been started this very afternoon, destined for a gin run.)

 

'Distribution' has so far consisted of taking some into work for a select few to taste, and likewise to my favourite bar for their opinion.  Although dinner guests are likely to get handed a Wellington 75 as they come through the door these days, if I have the wherewithal.  Exports to Melbourne seem unlikely at this stage.


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#374 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 09:46 PM

And finally ... any guesses what this is (or will be)?
 
attachicon.gifLiqueur.jpg

It looks like flower petals. Hibiscus?

#375 lesliec

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 10:12 PM

Good guess; wrong flower. Poppy.

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#376 Tri2Cook

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 08:22 AM

It looked kinda like you were infusing with chanterelles to me... glad I didn't guess. :biggrin:


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#377 Kerry Beal

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 04:41 PM

Good guess; wrong flower. Poppy.

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#378 Kent Wang

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 10:00 AM

The mandarin liqueur is fabulous stuff and I'm now on batch 2 of that.  Contrary to the illustration in the book I took it from, it doesn't pick up any colour from the fruit, but the amount of taste it pulls out is amazing.  Both times I've made it it's gone cloudy when the syrup hit the alcohol (there is no doubt a good reason for this, which haven't bothered to research yet), but it clears over the next few weeks.  Delicious.  On the off chance of achieving something wonderful I tried the same 'suspend the fruit over the alcohol'  trick with peaches, but all I got was wrinkly peaches.  Seems it's dependent on the oils in the skin of citrus.

 

 

That's incredible that you can just suspend them. Do you suspend them for 2 weeks? Surely the oranges will spoil over time—or do the alcohol fumes preserve it? What spirit do you use? For my infusions, I usually use Havana Club white which is only 37.5%.

 

Why add sugar at all? Does that help with preservation?

 

Does waxed/unwaxed matter?

 

If you're able to get your hands on some bergamot oranges, I'm sure that would be incredible.

 

I've been taking unwaxed citrus, mostly lemon and bergamot, using a microplane to remove as much of the peel without removing the pith, soak in Havana Club white for 2 hours and strain.

 

I've tried it a few times with waxed oranges and even tried to remove the wax by boiling for 10 seconds and rubbing with a paper towel, but it seemed to give the infusion a slight waxy mouthfeel—or maybe it's all in my head.



#379 lesliec

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 10:20 PM

Hi Kent.  I just checked the recipe again, and the mandarins stay suspended over the alcohol for a whole month.  They come out looking a bit jaded, but last time we saved the juice and it was fine in another cocktail.

 

The alcohol I use is the pure (90%-odd) stuff I distil myself.  Which almost answers your question about the sugar - it's at least partly to water the spirit down.  I end up somewhere around 52%, which is still quite 'hot', but at least not fatally so.  It's fine as a digestif or in a cocktail (search Kindred for the Tolkien; the mandarin works well as a sub for tangelo).

 

I'm not even sure if we get waxed citrus here.  In any case, I just put the fruit straight into the cheesecloth.  Bergamots would be interesting.  I'll have to see if I can find some - I don't recall ever seeing them.

 

Maybe the 'suspense' method would avoid waxiness.  Tell yourself it will, then rely on the placebo effect.


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#380 EvergreenDan

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 04:55 AM

I would think that pouring hot water over waxed citrus would remove most (or all) of the wax. This method is great for cleaning crystal candlesticks (if the solidified wax in the sink and drain isn't an issue).


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#381 Blether

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 05:46 AM

I'm not making a lot infusions with it, but generally wash citrus with soapy water and the rough side of the dish sponge, the same way I do dishes.  Did you already discount that approach, Kent ?


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#382 Kent Wang

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 07:03 PM

No, I haven't tried that yet. It's not a major issue for me as I can buy unwaxed lemons and oranges (can't get unwaxed limes though).

 

Btw, there's a whole thread on Cleaning & De-Waxing Citrus.

 

I wonder if suspension would not work nearly as well with only 35-50% alcohol.

 

Microplane and infuse works pretty well though. When I invite a bunch of people over I get the first person to arrive to microplane all the citrus we'll use that night, and two hours later the infusion is ready to go.


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#383 haresfur

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 11:25 PM

No, I haven't tried that yet. It's not a major issue for me as I can buy unwaxed lemons and oranges (can't get unwaxed limes though).

 

Btw, there's a whole thread on Cleaning & De-Waxing Citrus.

 

I wonder if suspension would not work nearly as well with only 35-50% alcohol.

 

Microplane and infuse works pretty well though. When I invite a bunch of people over I get the first person to arrive to microplane all the citrus we'll use that night, and two hours later the infusion is ready to go.

 

I'll be fashionably late.


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#384 lesliec

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 11:45 PM

 
I wonder if suspension would not work nearly as well with only 35-50% alcohol.


I suspect it may not, but you won't waste any booze by trying it.

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#385 Hassouni

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 08:50 AM

How does the booze pick up flavor and possibly color when fruit is suspended?



#386 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 10:31 AM

I imagine that the alcohol vapors solubilize some of the aromatic compounds in the fruit and then condense back into the liquid.



#387 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 10:41 AM

Apparently the same technique can be used to make limoncello. See this article in the NYT with a recipe. They use Everclear and suspend the whole lemons for ~ nine weeks.



#388 Hassouni

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 01:00 PM

Why not just immerse the whole fruit?

 

Also, might this work for herbs and spices?


Edited by Hassouni, 15 January 2014 - 01:05 PM.


#389 Tri2Cook

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 02:25 PM

The suspending technique works with chocolate too. I've been curious as to whether it would work with coffee beans but I haven't tried it.


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#390 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 02:32 PM

Why not just immerse the whole fruit?

 

With the suspended fruit technique, you mostly get the essential oils from the skin rather than the bitter compounds from the pith that you extract when you immerse the whole citrus.

 

There is something in France called "confiture de vieux garçon " (old bachelor's macerated fruits) which is basically a maceration of whole fruit in eau de vie. Delicious and pretty too, as you can build various fruit layers in your jar. That's typically done with done with stone fruit and berries though, not citrus.