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Infusions, Extractions & Tinctures at Home: The Topic (Part 1)

490 posts in this topic

I was cooking a recipe, braised pork with apples from the Bon Appetit magazine, a couple weeks ago that called for Calvados. Since I didn't have any Calvados I took some rum, it happened to be a sipping rum that I really don't care for, and threw in some apple chunks and vacuumed it. In about an hour it had picked up a ton of apple flavor and worked great in the recipe. The thing that surprised me is that the rum was much better that way. I decided that the next time I do it I'll add a small amount of cinnamon and try it slightly warm.

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I was fortunate enough to acquire five pounds of sloe fruit (prunus spinosa) in late September. There are a few patches of them naturalized in the Willamette Valley here in Western Oregon.

Scanning a few online recipes for homemade sloe gin, I did the following.

Combine in a large Cambro

2 - 1.75 bottles Seagrams Gin

4.5 cups evaporated cane sugar

5 lbs sloe fruit.

Stirred daily for two weeks and then weekly after that.

Some of the recipes I read called for adding a bit of almond extract. After I strained off the infusion, I added a1/2 tsp to 1/2 the batch. It added some depth without coming across as almond, so I added the same amount to the other half.

I've tucked away three bottles as it's supposed to improve with age. The rest is being consumed at a rapid rate, neat and in coctails.

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If you slice the jalapenos in half and remove the seeds and ribs, you can let it sit longer to no ill effect. I have a recipe for a jalapeno and cilantro infused tequila in my book for use as an oyster shooter with a splash of pineapple juice on top, or as a martini with a bit more pineapple juice, a splash of lime juice and shaken then served up. It's called Chihuahua tequila, the martini version is a Rabid Chihuahua. smile.gif

Thanks Katie! Tried it yesterday. Filled the jar with half cut jalapenos. Tasted it 3 hours in and it was perfect but could not believe it was done that quickly so let it infuse for a few more hours. Unfortunately now it's a little too spicy. Having some friends over to try it. Might mix 3/4 ounce of it with 4/3 ounce regular tequila and 5 ounces pineapple juice to make 2 cocktails. Will experiment and see how it goes.

For the rest of the bottle the plan is to make 1 or 2 cocktails like one I read about which mixes 2 ounces of tequila with 1 ounce of dolin blanc and pechauds and orange biiters. For the remainder I intend to go to trader joe's and look at their dried fruits selection and pick something from there to infuse it with. Current top contenders are dried strawberries or dried chili rubbed mangoes.

So with half of the bottle I tried infusing it with dried mangoes. I left it for a day and now I have a syrupy infusion that is 1/3 or 1/4 of the volume I put in and some alcoholic tasting plump mangoes. Is this the cost of doing business with dried fruit or am I doing something wrong. I didn't know there was going to be a substantial mangoes share? Any tips or thoughts? This could become very expensive if 3/4 of the liquor goes into the dried fruit.

I've made homemade apricot liqueur in the past using dried apricots reconstituted by covering them with boiling water and letting them plump up for a couple of hours and then draining off the water and proceeding as if you are using fresh fruit.

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How much rooibos did you add to 750ml brandy?

I actually used Vodka for that infusion and I can't find my notes for it but I think I used about 1/8 cup? I just bought an ounce or two so I didn't use a lot. Pretty sure I made a half gallon as well.

I was cooking a recipe, braised pork with apples from the Bon Appetit magazine, a couple weeks ago that called for Calvados. Since I didn't have any Calvados I took some rum, it happened to be a sipping rum that I really don't care for, and threw in some apple chunks and vacuumed it. In about an hour it had picked up a ton of apple flavor and worked great in the recipe. The thing that surprised me is that the rum was much better that way. I decided that the next time I do it I'll add a small amount of cinnamon and try it slightly warm.

That's a good idea, I never thought of vacuum sealing!

The earlier infusion topic is here.

I knew there had to be one, thank you and I apologize for cluttering the forum.

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I was fortunate enough to acquire five pounds of sloe fruit (prunus spinosa) in late September. There are a few patches of them naturalized in the Willamette Valley here in Western Oregon.

Scanning a few online recipes for homemade sloe gin, I did the following.

Combine in a large Cambro

2 - 1.75 bottles Seagrams Gin

4.5 cups evaporated cane sugar

5 lbs sloe fruit.

Stirred daily for two weeks and then weekly after that.

Some of the recipes I read called for adding a bit of almond extract. After I strained off the infusion, I added a1/2 tsp to 1/2 the batch. It added some depth without coming across as almond, so I added the same amount to the other half.

I've tucked away three bottles as it's supposed to improve with age. The rest is being consumed at a rapid rate, neat and in coctails.

Sent from my GT-P5113 using Tapatalk 2

That sounds awesome! I'm curious where you got it? I live in Portland but frequent the coast often and I'd love to try and make sloe Gin. I've only ever bought Plymouth and don't know of any other good Sloe Gin available in my area. I have a few good recipes though that call for it.

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Here are some I started recently:

Lemon thyme and thyme:

006 (480x640).jpg

Kaffir lime:

011 (480x640).jpg

Walnut:

001 (480x640).jpg

It's traditionally made with green walnuts but there's no possibility of finding those around here. It works fine with dried ones too.

Rhubarb, orange and ginger:

001 (480x640).jpg

I made fruit liqueurs last year. Now I'm trying some other stuff. I made a lot of these little samples so I could experiment with different combinations and different alcohols, and with the amount of sugar. I'll make some of them into bitters and make larger quantities of the ones that work best as liqueurs.

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I use to infuse Grappa. I'm northern Italian I inherited tons of recipes, the oldest from my great-grandmother Cecilia.

Vodka is too flavorless to infuse it.

And, when you infuse something, stay away from cheap liquors: use the best you can find or pure alcohol 90º.


My Italian Homemade Liqueurs and Pastries recipes at: http://italianliqueurs.blogspot.com.es

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What's the point of fruit infusions when you can just juice them instead? For example, a strawberry infusion is my absolute favorite, but why go through the trouble of infusing it when you can put the strawberries into a centrifugal juicer instead? (A blender and a strainer can also work)
The advantages of an infusion over just adding spirit to juice is that the spirit will remain fairly high in alcohol content, since it doesn't extract much water or sugar from the fruit, and because of this will have a fairly long shelf life.
But for most fruit infusions, you end up making a cocktail where you would want to put sugar back in and wouldn't mind some dilution either. If I wanted to make a big batch of a strawberry cocktail for a party, I would just juice the strawberries and add spirit. It'll probably taste fresher, too.
So the only remaining advantage of an infusion is the long shelf life.
But there are also disadvantages, aside from the time and effort, you also lose quite a bit of fruit and spirit through the process. If you try to eat an infused strawberry, it'll taste very boozy. I think most people just end up tossing those, but you can bake with them, make a boozy smoothie, or juice them, as I describe below:

I recently made Myer's rum infusions with raisins and dried apricots. I bought these at the Muslim market in Shanghai. Absolutely delicious. A lot of the sugar is leeched out so you have a fairly sweet infusion. All you need to do is serve it chilled (shaken, stirred, or on rocks), no need to add anything else. The infusions can be repeated a few times—i.e. you can pour out all the rum, then add in more rum. The infused raisins and apricots are also quite tasty on their own.

I've had a Philips HR1861 centrifugal juicer for a few months and that has been very useful for juicing and infusing. After I do a conventional infusion (say, pineapple), I can run the fruits through the juicer to extract more liquor (though this will be lower ABV as it will have more juice and plant matter). Then I take the pulp from the juicer and infuse it again. Since the pulp has massive surface area, after just a day or two the infusion is ready and I run it through the juicer again for more liquor. The remaining pulp I'll bake into cookies or cakes.

I'm like a Native American with a buffalo.

Of course this primarily applies to fruit infusions. Obviously, spice and tea need to be infused.

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When making liqueurs I've had a lot of great success juicing then fortifying with spirits. I think one reason juicing is not more popular is that people just don't have the tools. I've worked in so many restaurants that don't own a juicer. When I started juicing with the basket press and learning more about wine making for distillation one of the things I started to realize is that the options available make big differences in pectin content. When you make wines to be distilled you want to limit pectin because it produces methanol when it breaks down. Some times fruit infusions can dissolve a lot of pectin and I've made tequila por me amante in the past from super market strawberries that ended up pretty wobbly. Too much pectin in whatever you are making is bad.

Lately I juice, then freeze concentrate, then sugar, then fortify. Freeze concentrating helps when you only have 40% alcohol spirits to fortify with. I usually only fortify to 20% which is more or less the minimum of preservation.


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creator of acquired tastes

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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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Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

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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 ...


Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

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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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Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

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Amazing.

I wish I could do the same.

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

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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!


Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

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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 (log)

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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 (log)

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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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Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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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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Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

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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.


Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

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