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Hassouni

Best Method for Mint Infusion

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So a while ago I had an infused vodka party - we did graprefruit, honey and some kind of herb (rosemary I think), kiwi, something else I can't remember, and mint, using fresh mint leaves. Everything came out great except the mint, which after 24 hours was wilted and smelled truly revolting. I've also noticed that after you've drunk a mojito, the mint in the glass also looks wilty and ends up smelling bad if you let your glass sit out for even a few minutes. What is it with mint and alcohol, and how does one create an alcoholic mint infusion?

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Hassouni,

I'd be willing to bet that your mint infusion was brown and not real pleasant smelling - sort of weedy? If so, I'd imagine that's chlorophyll decaying in the water left in the spirit.

If I wanted a mint infusion, I'd take a clean French Press, a V60 coffee dripper, and a bundle of mint. Take the bundle of mint and smack it from side to side in the French Press for 30 seconds until you release a lot of aroma. Then pull the leaves off the stems, put them in the V60 (wet the paper filter with your alcohol, which should be Everclear - or something as high proof as you can buy), place the V60 on top of the French Press, and pour the alcohol through the piled leaves into the bottom, which should pick up the mint oils from the sides of the Press. You can recycle the aromatized alcohol through the leaves a few times, but stop when you don't get any more aroma out of the process.

Your mint tincture could then be sweetened and diluted to whatever strength you like.

Thanks,

Zachary

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Mint is not an oily herb like rosemary, lavender and the like. More like basil. It wimps out. As noted above it needs a quick extraction or it will turn into dark goo. If the drink contains sweetness then an intense syrup could work.

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Another way that I recommend is to slow down the infusion, in this case add your base spirit/alcohol to a freezer then add mint leaves to that. I've had a high degree of success though I'm still in experimentational stages with regards ratios.

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I have a mint plant in the garden(think its Kentucky,something), stuff is so totally overwhelming, flavor wise,Ihave never found a good use for it its so powerful..

Bud

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I think that the problem you are having is three fold. Mint is one of the most delicate herbs around, so first and foremost treat it as gently as possible. Do not bruise let alone muddle. Also you don't need high proof alcohol and a long time to get the flavor out of mint. A simple syrup or 80* vodka will do the trick. AIR IS THE ENEMY. The essential oils will oxidize in a matter of minutes turning beautiful mint into lawn clippings. Make sure that your mint is completely submerged for the 15 minutes to 30 minutes (at the out side) that the mint is infusing. Use a lot of mint to get the deepest flavor.

Cheers,

Toby

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If you have an iSi siphon, you can use the N20 infusion trick described here, which works quite well for mint and other delicate herbs. (I believe Eleven Madison Park does a julep with a mint-infused whiskey using that technique.) You avoid oxidation that way and the flavor extraction is quick and clean.

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I have actually not found N2O cavitation to work all that well with mint, but as with all things YMMV.

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It needs a nice full siphon and a bit of judicious muddling to bring the oils to the surface and start the exchange. Slow infusion will denature the oils and yield an unpleasantly woody flavor, but I've found that the menthol profusion via cavitation is pretty wonderful.

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Slow infusion...

(by way of the freezing method as described above) has worked very well for me though admittedly further experimentation is needed.

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Why not blanch the mint to kill degradative enzymes? You'd lose some flavor, but that can be compensated for.

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You lose a LOT of flavor, is the problem. Heat does break down menthol. Blanching is great across the board (IME) for herb syrups, but not a good pre-infusion technique.

Citric acid is a nice booster for a mint infusion, as is some light muddling. I also think that two charges at 30 seconds apiece are required, or else the infusion is just too weak. Minimum 360ml spirit, and you definitely want higher proof here (100+).

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Most mint used for flavoring is distilled into peppermint oil. Peppermint oil is readily available and may make a better end product, if not a true infusion.

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Mint simple syrup works best for me. Virtually any drink that I'd use it in (julep, mojito, caipirina, etc.) has a fairly significant dose of simple syrup or sugar anyway. If you don't want a 1:1 ratio make a weaker syrup instead. It keeps for about a couple of weeks before it starts to lose it's flavor. Blanch the washed leaves in the simmering syrup. Cool slightly and buzz through the blender to expose maximal surface area. Cool overnight in the refrigerator and strain through a chinoise or gold coffee filter, pressing down on the debris to get all the syrup and flavor out. Refrigerate immediately after funneling into a clean glass bottle.

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Actually for me when I am infusing mint or other things like basil, orange zest etc. So you dont get the bitterness or the degredation i use the method of extracting the oils to infuse that Columbine Quillen described at PDX Cocktail Camp earlier this year. you can read about it Here but i've attached a pretty easily understood diagram below. Obviously the sugar isn't necessary but you can if you want

evaporator-for-blog.jpg


Edited by ThatNateGuy (log)
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