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Homemade Liqueurs


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#31 binkyboots

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Posted 16 April 2005 - 12:57 PM

One of the most succesful liqueurs I've made at home was a dried fig and vanilla brew...

Inspired on holiday in Salzburg, we were given a shot glass of figgy, syrupy vodka with a fresh fig in it, delicious!

I came home, bought some vodka and a couple of packets of dried figs, chopped the figs into a big glass jar, threw in a vanilla pod (whole) and 200g caster sugar, poured on the vodka and ignored it for, a year, a little more?

Bottled it finally, it's dark tawny in colour and smells like a figgy marzipan, tastes heavenly.

The figs made a gorgeous boozy jam to boot!

Right now I have a bottle of krupnik made last Christmas, iut's a honey, orange peel, clove and vanilla vodka based drink, really good slightly warmed.

Hiding out in a dark cool corner in our shed I have rhubarb scnapps ala nigella lawson and a spiced apple brandy, it just looks so gorgeous.
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#32 eje

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 11:08 AM

Here is a picture of my Blood Orange Ratafia. I guess I would expect some sediment/cloudiness, since juice is used. Should I be concerned? So far no vomiting or sickness after drinking. Keeping it in the refridgerator.

6 blood oranges, zest and juice, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 star anise, 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, 2 parts vodka to one part orange stuff. I do like the flavor the star anise adds. Don't think I will add the peppercorns next year. While the zip they give it isn't unpleasant, it distracts a bit from the delicious berry flavor of the blood oranges.

Posted Image

Here're the new experiments from last week. I gotta get one of those microplane zesters.

Posted Image
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#33 sazji

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 08:37 AM

I got a very nice quince liqueur recipe from a Mediterranean gardening group I participate in. I make it every year (it's getting about that time...)

10 large ripe quinces (smell them, they should be really fragrant)
one liter grappa
15 bitter almonds
4 cloves
2 3-inch sticks of cinnamon.

Quarter and seed quinces, grate them. Add the other ingredients and put into a glass jar, cover with the grappa. Shake occasionally, don't worry if the top layer of quince turns brown, it just makes the final liqueur more golden in color. Let stand at least 2 months in a warm dark place.

Squeeze the liquid out of the pulp and do a basic filtering through cotton, and sweeten to taste with simple sugar syrup, and if the alchol is a bit weak (it may be, if you used really big quinces -- you can use either more grappa or pure alcohol). There is no way to completely filter it clear; you have to let it sit for several months. At some point it will rather suddenly precipitate; let this process go on for at least a month and it will be crystal clear. Decant into nice bottles.

It's good any time of the year, but I especially like it in the summer over ice.
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#34 eje

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 11:42 PM

I got a very nice quince liqueur recipe from a Mediterranean gardening group I participate in.  I make it every year (it's getting about that time...)

10 large ripe quinces (smell them, they should be really fragrant)
one liter grappa
15 bitter almonds
4 cloves
2 3-inch sticks of cinnamon.

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That does sound interesting. I've vowed to try a couple new things with Quinces this fall. Perhaps this will be one of them. Though, I guess selling bitter almonds is illegal here in the states, so I will have a hard time following the recipe exactly. Some folks apparently substitute peach or apricot kernels. I don't have experience with trying that myself, yet. I even chickened out of leaving the pits in my plum and pluout liqueurs this summer.

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#35 Adam Balic

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 08:29 AM

I got a very nice quince liqueur recipe from a Mediterranean gardening group I participate in.  I make it every year (it's getting about that time...)

10 large ripe quinces (smell them, they should be really fragrant)
one liter grappa
15 bitter almonds
4 cloves
2 3-inch sticks of cinnamon.

Quarter and seed quinces, grate them.  Add the other ingredients and put into a glass jar, cover with the grappa.  Shake occasionally, don't worry if the top layer of quince turns brown, it just makes the final liqueur more golden in color.  Let stand at least 2 months in a warm dark place.

Squeeze the liquid out of the pulp and do a basic filtering through cotton, and sweeten to taste with simple sugar syrup, and if the alchol is a bit weak (it may be, if you used really big quinces -- you can use either more grappa or pure alcohol).  There is no way to completely filter it clear; you have to let it sit for several months.  At some point it will rather suddenly precipitate; let this process go on for at least a month and it will be crystal clear. Decant into nice bottles.

It's good any time of the year, but I especially like it in the summer over ice.

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This is very similar to an 18thC English recipe I have seen. I have made it a few times and it is very good.

"Ratafia of Quinces"

You must have some Quinces, and rasp them with a Grater; all being grated, you must have a Piece of strong Cloth, put in a small handful, and squeese it with all your Might, that the Juice may come from it; when all is squeesed and you have all the Juice, put it in a Preserving pan, let it take just one single Boiling, and let it cool; being cooled, measure two Quarts of Juice and two Quarts of Brandy, Measure by Measure, and clarify some Sugar; to each two Quarts, ten Ounces of Sugar, a Piece of Cinnamon, four Cloves, and three or four Grains of white Pepper whole; stop up your Jug very close, put it aside for two or three Months, put it through a Straining-bag, until it come very clear, and put it up in Bottles flopped very close.

La Chapelle, "The Modern Cook" (London: 1733)

#36 Mrs. P

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 12:31 PM

That does sound interesting.  I've vowed to try a couple new things with Quinces this fall.  Perhaps this will be one of them.  Though, I guess selling bitter almonds is illegal here in the states, so I will have a hard time following the recipe exactly.  Some folks apparently substitute peach or apricot kernels.  I don't have experience with trying that myself, yet.  I even chickened out of leaving the pits in my plum and pluout liqueurs this summer.

-Erik

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Can you describe your plouot and plum liqueurs? I have made some peach, blackberry and strawberry liquors this summer and they turned out well using eau de vies. The vodka ones were not as great, but I am not that experienced with vodka and may not have selected a very good type. Thanks!

#37 eje

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 09:43 AM

Can you describe your plouot and plum liqueurs?  I have made some...using eau de vies. The vodka ones were not as great...

Mrs. P,

For both of these I pitted and quartered 2 pounds of fruit, covered with 1 bottle of vodka and macerated for a month in 1.5L jars. Then I filtered out the solids with cheese cloth, filtered again through paper towels, sweetened with 2:1 simple syrup, and am currently aging them. I am planning on filtering and bottling this weekend, so I will post pictures.

For the Dapple Dandy Pluots, I used my standard vodka, Finlandia. The pluot smelled very good when I filtered, though it held on to a lot of the liquid in a mushy paste that was a very slow to filter. I did not add much simple to it as it smelled pretty sweet already. It is a light brown-ish pink.

For the sugar plums (hybrid prune plums) as an experiment I used 100 proof Absolut. I doubt I'll use 100 proof again, since it costs about as much for 750L as 80 proof vodka costs for 1.75L. I'm hoping this is OK. When I filtered this one, it seemed a little close to cough syrup. It is very dark in color.

Eau de vies? Since I am not sure where you are from you will have to tell me what you mean here. I live in the US, so to me, eau de vie usually means very expensive fruit infused liquor.
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#38 eje

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 11:50 PM

Finally got around to filtering some liqueurs.

This is the pomegranate after first filtering through cheesecloth on the left and the pluot after second filtering through chemex on the right.

Posted Image

Here's the SugarPlum (Prune Plum). This is darker than my Nocino!

Posted Image

The pluot smells great. The apricot seems to come to dominance after macerating. The SugarPlum still smells like cough drops to me.
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#39 slkinsey

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 11:52 AM

Can you describe your plouot and plum liqueurs?  I have made some...using eau de vies. The vodka ones were not as great...

Eau de vies? Since I am not sure where you are from you will have to tell me what you mean here. I live in the US, so to me, eau de vie usually means very expensive fruit infused liquor.

Cool looking stuff!

This is from a while back, I see, but I thought I might as well offer a little clarification. Eaux de vie are not infused. An eau de vie is, rather, an unaged distillate of fruit: the fruit is pressed to extract the juice; the juice is fermented, and the fermented juice is distilled. A feature of eau de vie is that it is colorless and unaged. So Calvados, for example, which is an aged spirit, would not commonly be called an eau de vie. Common eaux de vie are cherry, pear, strawberry, raspberry and apricot.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#40 eje

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 12:56 PM

Cool looking stuff!

This is from a while back, I see, but I thought I might as well offer a little clarification.  Eaux de vie are not infused.  An eau de vie is, rather, an unaged distillate of fruit: the fruit is pressed to extract the juice; the juice is fermented, and the fermented juice is distilled.  A feature of eau de vie is that it is colorless and unaged.  So Calvados, for example, which is an aged spirit, would not commonly be called an eau de vie.  Common eaux de vie are cherry, pear, strawberry, raspberry and apricot.

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Thanks for clarifying. I keep getting these things confused.

Where do the Schnapps, like Berentzen's, fit in? Are those made like liqueurs or Eau de Vie?

Seems to me at 20% ABV they may have more in common with liqueurs. But then there's the high power stuff like Rumplemintze.

I've read that true European schnapps are largely unavailable here and are not usually sweetened.

PS. Checked on the web and most of Berentzen's "schnapps" products appear to be flavored grain neutral spirits.

Edited by eje, 15 November 2005 - 11:38 PM.

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#41 eje

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 01:14 PM

I wonder how astringent the quince liqueur is?  If it was astringent or tartish, I can see really liking it in the summer.  If it ends up on the sweet side like my nocino did, it will just sit around forever, unappreciated.

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I still haven't seen any quinces this year. I'm hoping they will show up at my farmers' market soon.

I can't stand overly sweet liqueurs either. As a starting point, I routinely cut the sugar or sugar syrup of most recipes in half. I seldom end up adding more. I just like the flavor of the thing.

edited to clarify.

Edited by eje, 15 November 2005 - 03:25 PM.

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#42 eje

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 01:31 PM

This is from a while back, I see, but I thought I might as well offer a little clarification.  Eaux de vie are not infused.  An eau de vie is, rather, an unaged distillate of fruit: the fruit is pressed to extract the juice; the juice is fermented, and the fermented juice is distilled.  A feature of eau de vie is that it is colorless and unaged.  So Calvados, for example, which is an aged spirit, would not commonly be called an eau de vie.  Common eaux de vie are cherry, pear, strawberry, raspberry and apricot.

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Sam,

I recently bought some Creme de Griotte (excellent product, BTW) from G.W. Massenez and was doing a bit of poking around on their web site while I was waiting for some Perl modules to install (whee!).

They say, raspberries and other wild berries don't have enough sugar to ferment to a high enough proof on their own, so, in fact, those eau de vies are made by macerating the fruit in alcohol and then re-distilling.

Massenez Website

Edited by eje, 12 February 2006 - 12:16 AM.

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#43 Saborosa

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 09:59 AM

Barcelona calling:

The origins of ratafia are certainly contested - although of course it is, beyond doubt, a Catalan drink (it has a Denominacion Geografica label from the Ministry of Agriculture) and a Gironan one, but which Garrotxan town exactly is it from... Besalu? Olot?... It started as a medicinal draught (and it still tastes like it), and its chief components are "Camomila, hierbaluisa, la piel de un limón, nuez moscada y nueces verdes" "chamomile, lemon verbena, lemon peel, nutmeg and green walnuts" which are steeped in booze for "40 days and 40 nights" in a glass jug or jar. Then it's filtered and matured for a coupleof months more, usually in wood. Then water and sugar is added to get the right proof and taste.

19th century Catalan priest-poet Jacint Verdaguer claims the name comes from the latin rata fiat - meaning 'agreed', more or less. Three bishops got together one day for some discussion or other. Once they'd come to an agreement they decided to toast it with the drink of the house - which at the time was nameless. Either a misunderstanding led them to confuse 'rata fiat' with teh name of the hooch, or they purposely named it such.

Sometimes it's drunk with milk - a beverage called - pure breast milk!

Catalan readers may be interested in the "Book of Ratafia" - El llibre de la ratafia RATAFÍAS Y LICORES DE HIERBAS DE TODO EL MUNDO by Jaume Fabrega.

my most recent weird licor experience though was licor de calcot (a kind of Catalan spring onion) which tastes, funnily enough, like onions and is perhaps best kept for pickling or such like. or as an emetic.

#44 eje

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 01:57 PM

It started as a medicinal draught (and it still tastes like it), and its chief components are ..."chamomile, lemon verbena, lemon peel, nutmeg and green walnuts" which are steeped in booze for "40 days and 40 nights" in a glass jug or jar. Then it's filtered and matured for a coupleof months more, usually in wood. Then water and sugar is added to get the right proof and taste.
...
Sometimes it's drunk with milk - a beverage called - pure breast milk!
...

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Are ratafias made with other ingredients in Spain, or only the green walnut one? The ingredients aren't that far from a typical Italian Nocino. What would the typical "booze" be in Spain?

I haven't ever tried mixing Nocino with dairy; but, I suppose it could be OK...Might even be an interesting addition to walnut gelato.
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#45 eje

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Posted 11 May 2006 - 10:08 PM

I've been kicking the idea of an infusion based on some of the ingredients in Mexican Mole sauces for some time now. Finally got to making it.

1/2 cup whole cocoa beans, roasted at 250F until fragrant, crushed
1/2 cup pumpking seeds, toasted
3 sticks mexican cinnamon, crushed
2 whole cloves
3 ancho chiles, seeded and toasted until fragrant
1/2 cup dry apricots, briefly blanched
4 cups vodka

1 piloncillo
1/3 cup water

Combine dry ingredients in clean container, cover with vodka, and steep for 3 weeks. Pour through cheesecloth covered sieve, and return to container. Dissolve piloncillo in water and add to filtered mixture. Let stand for two more weeks. Pour off liquid, leaving any sediment in container. Bottle in a clean container.

Not quite sure what it is. Bitter chocolate-chile liqueur? Not quite sweet enough. Chile-chocolate bitters? Not quite bitter or medicinal enough.

It's mostly bitter chocolate with a hint of spice and chile. No cocktail applications as yet. I was hoping it would be an interesting addition to an Ace of Clubs; but, the spices don't play nice with the lime and the chocolate flavor is too strong. I'm thinking something like a Manhattan with Bourbon or a rich rum might be nice.
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#46 BTR

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Posted 17 February 2007 - 07:41 PM

Last summer I made some apricot liqueur with some spices---peppercorn and anise among them (I cleverly lost my list of what and how much). A few months ago it had a very strong anise smell, a mysterious sour-sweet tang, and an anise-apricot flavor; now there's a much more pronounced pepper heat with the same anise nose and an apricot aftertaste. Wonder what it'll be like by mid-spring...

#47 Shanghai Eats (and Drinks...)

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 06:11 AM

I am in the process of making Limoncello (about 10 days into it now) and was wondering if anyone has made a similar batch using peaches or melons (cantaloupe)?

My base alcohol is Everclear 151 - and I would like to make a Peach flavored, as well as Melon flavored, alcohol once my Limoncello is ready.

I remember having a chilled cantaloupe vodka in San Marino some years ago after dinner and it was the best damn drink I've ever had. I even brought a bottle back from Italy - but haven't seen (or tasted) it since.

Any suggestions?

Thank you.

Mark
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#48 slkinsey

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 08:09 AM

I wouldn't call a peach- or melon-infused vodka a "-cello" since that's something I think is probably most appropriate for citrus zest-infused, sweetened alcohol.

Anyway, for what you want to do, I'd simply chop up some fruit, cover it with 100 proof vodka and infuse until you get the intensity of flavor you're after. Then strain out the fruit and sweeten with rich simple syrup to taste, if desired.
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#49 Shanghai Eats (and Drinks...)

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 09:50 AM

It might be a dumb question, but does it matter if I use 151 Everclear in terms of what happens to the fruit? Or would I be better off using 100 proof vodka?

The reason I ask is because I prefer diluting the pure alochol with syrup so I don't have a "vodka" taste, but if the stronger alcohol will do something nasty to the fruit, then I'd rather know that before attempting to make it.

And how long (guesstimate) would the peaches and/or melons need to sit in the alchohol before it could be considered "ready to drink?".

Thanks.

Mark
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#50 slkinsey

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 10:13 AM

It's not that the high proof alcohol will do something nasty to the fruit. Rather, it's the case that the high proof alcohol is already pretty nasty.

The problem with using something like 151 proof Everclear, or any other grain alcohol, is that they are not highly refined. A big part of the vodka-making process is repeated re-distillation (rectification) and filtration to ensure that the result is, to the greatest extent possible, an azeotropic solution of ethanol and water at 96% abv. This is one of the things that makes vodka so smooth. Everclear and other high proof grain alcohols, on the other hand, do not seem to receive this treatment. (Companies that use high proof alcohol, such as the Italian limoncello makers, seem to do some degree of refinement to smooth out the end product, but this does not seem to be available at retail.)

Try this experiment: pour yourself an ounce of 100 proof Smirnoff, and then make yourself an ounce of "100 proof Everclear" by mixing 2/3 ounce of Everclear 151 and 1/3 ounce of neutral-tasting spring water. Chill both in the freezer for an hour and then taste them. Taste them again at room temperature. The "100 proof Everclear" will be very rough compared to the 100 proof Smirnoff.

As for the infusion time, that's hard to say. Just try a tiny bit of it every day until you get a flavor you like.
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#51 tafkap4d

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 10:16 AM

I love the responses. I have only used vodka when making my Lemoncello. I don't use the highest quality (e.g. Level, Absolut, Stolies, etc.) but I do use a pretty decent one.

Great information and knowledge shared here.
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#52 varicose veins

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 10:21 AM

I haven't tried making any of these at home but I am a big fan of Pallini's range, they do a peach-cello and a raspi-cello. I'd imagine it would be much more difficult at home but surely the presence of such good products means its worth a try. The melon version sounds fantastic! Good Luck! xx

#53 FoodMan

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 10:32 AM

Everclear should work just fine. As for timframe...well I would guess you'll only be able to tell by tasting some, but give it at least a couple of weeks.

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#54 Shanghai Eats (and Drinks...)

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 10:37 AM

slkinsey,

thank you very much for the information!

sincerely,
Mark
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#55 eje

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 10:39 AM

It might be a dumb question, but does it matter if I use 151 Everclear in terms of what happens to the fruit? Or would I be better off using 100 proof vodka?

The reason I ask is because I prefer diluting the pure alochol with syrup so I don't have a "vodka" taste, but if the stronger alcohol will do something nasty to the fruit, then I'd rather know that before attempting to make it.

And how long (guesstimate) would the peaches and/or melons need to sit in the alchohol before it could be considered "ready to drink?".
[...]

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I've had very good luck with a whole fruit apricot liqueur following jackal10's damson/sloe gin procedure in this topic:

Autumn and Festive Preserves

I'll also refer you to portion of Gunther Anderson's website about liqueur making:

Liqueur-making Principles and Techniques

He recommends macerating stone fruit for 2 weeks to a month, and then aging at least a month before enjoying. Check the General Principles page for more info.

I don't know how possible it is to make melon liqueur simply by steeping the fruit. They are very watery, so it may be difficult to get a concentrated enough melon flavor to cover the taste of the alcohol.

re: 151 vs 100 proof. Chuckle, well, I prefer using vodka so it doesn't have that "grain alcohol" smell! The only real differences are personal preference and the alcohol percentage math you have to do at the end. Some folks say you get better flavor extraction with higher proof liqueurs. Higher proof alcohol is also probably better at killing any stray bacteria on the fruit.
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#56 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 10:53 AM

For what it's worth, I've been using 190 proof grain alcohol in my limoncello for some time with good effect. I add sugar and water to reduce the proof to about 60. With all that, plus the fact that these liqueurs are served at freezer temperatures, it works just fine. I have very limited experience with commercial limoncello, but friends who have tried it say its better than the store brands (of course they could just be fishing for another bottle).

The one thing I did notice a slight difference in was using Everclear brand vs generic (Mohawk on the first try) grain alcohol. The Everclear did seem to make a somewhat smoother end product.

-Andy

Edit to add: Have you considered other bases? Peaches in brandy or melons in gin sounds good to me.

Edited by thirtyoneknots, 21 February 2007 - 10:54 AM.

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#57 eje

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 12:15 PM

Oh, and I wouldn't cut up the peaches.

I've tried that in the past with plums. Especially, if you have decently ripe fruit, the flesh turns to pectin thickened mush, and makes the liqueur an enormous pain in the a** to filter.

If you're going to freeze, as jackal10 advises, just poke the skin of each peach a few times with a knife or fork beforehand to allow the alcohol to enter and fruit juice to exit. The cracking thing doesn't really work with thicker skinned fruit like peaches and apricots.
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#58 BTR

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 12:29 AM

If you're going to freeze, as jackal10 advises, just poke the skin of each peach a few times with a knife or fork beforehand to allow the alcohol to enter and fruit juice to exit.  The cracking thing doesn't really work with thicker skinned fruit like peaches and apricots.

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I take it, then, that you left the pits in your apricots, to no ill effect?

#59 varicose veins

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 07:51 AM

I take it, then, that you left the pits in your apricots, to no ill effect?

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[/quote]

Again, I haven't tried this myself, but I am aware that in lots of commercial apricot liqeuers, the apricot pit is what adds some of those lovely almond flavours into the mix, makes things abit more interesting.

#60 FoodMan

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 10:35 AM


I take it, then, that you left the pits in your apricots, to no ill effect?

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Again, I haven't tried this myself, but I am aware that in lots of commercial apricot liqeuers, the apricot pit is what adds some of those lovely almond flavours into the mix, makes things abit more interesting.

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For the 'lovely almond flavours' though, you have to crack/crush some pits in there. Simply leaving them in won't do the trick.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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