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Orgeat


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I'm going to disagree with Chris on this one. Natural orgeat is nowhere near as strongly flavored with that flavor we think of as "almond flavoring" compared to the commercial flavored versions.

I don't know who you're disagreeing with, but it's not me. I said that the almond flavor should be pronounced, not that it should taste like commercial almond flavoring.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Right. "Pronounced" as in "strongly marked; easily noticeable." I would not agree that natural orgeat made from sweet almonds has a "pronounced almond flavor." On the contrary, I would say that it has a rather soft and subtle almond flavor. Especially when combined with other flavors, the almond flavor of natural orgeat made from sweet almonds is anything but strongly marked and easily noticeable. My Mai Tai example is a good one. Make that drink with an unadjusted natural sweet almond orgeat, and you'd be hard-pressed to tell there was any almond flavor in there at all. That, in my book, means that the almond flavor is not pronounced.

Benzaldehyde, on the other hand, has a pronounced almond flavor. More specifically, it has a pronounced bitter almond flavor. I was just explaining why natural orgeat made from sweet almonds has a different and subtle, as opposed to pronounced flavor compared to the commercial preparations, which are bitter almond flavored. And, it must be pointed out, that the pronounced benzaldehyde bitter almond flavor is what most people expect from an orgeat.

I imagine that natural orgeat made from bitter almonds might also have a pronounced almond flavor. But sweet almond orgeat does not. This is the real reason we do things like adding apricot kernels: to contribute benzaldehyde so that the natural sweet almond orgeat has a pronounced flavor.

I personally prefer a middle ground: Something that has a more pronounced (bitter) almond flavor than unadjusted natural sweet almond orgeat, but something that has greater (sweet) almond subtlety and creamyness than the commercial preparations. I find that using high quality bitter almond essential oil in minute quantities is the best way to titrate the homemade orgeat just as I would like it to be.

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Thanks for the science and tips, Sam! Regarding the apricot kernels, would it be appropriate to use a kernel from an apricot from the tree in my yard? I've no idea where to purchase packaged apricot kernels, or bitter almond oil...

As for the disagreement: Basically, I made a Japanese cocktail and was struggling to find the almond flavour in it. I can taste the almond fine in the orgeat by itself, but it has very little 'cut' and it does indeed taste like munching on the almonds rather than marzipan. Sam seems to say this is the norm for homemade orgeat, at least in a Mai Tai, I suppose perhaps its flavour should come through more obviously in a Japanese given the far simpler nature of the cocktail.

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I would not recommend using an apricot kernel from your own tree -- not least because you just won't know what you're getting. Moreover, you would have to crack the seed shell to get to the kernel.

Any high quality natural almond extract will be made with bitter almond oil.

Marzipan, by the way, is flavored with bitter almonds.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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I personally prefer a middle ground: Something that has a more pronounced (bitter) almond flavor than unadjusted natural sweet almond orgeat, but something that has greater (sweet) almond subtlety and creamyness than the commercial preparations. I find that using high quality bitter almond essential oil in minute quantities is the best way to titrate the homemade orgeat just as I would like it to be.

When you're titrating for your small batch recipe, how much do you add? A few drops? A ml or two?

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I personally prefer a middle ground: Something that has a more pronounced (bitter) almond flavor than unadjusted natural sweet almond orgeat, but something that has greater (sweet) almond subtlety and creamyness than the commercial preparations. I find that using high quality bitter almond essential oil in minute quantities is the best way to titrate the homemade orgeat just as I would like it to be.

When you're titrating for your small batch recipe, how much do you add? A few drops? A ml or two?

That's hard to say. I usually give away a fair amount of my orgeat, so I often make a pretty big batch. After I've added the vanilla and orange flower water (and a touch of salt) to my taste, I'll add a few drops of the bitter almond oil. Then shake, rest, taste, repeat until it gets where I want it to be. But it doesn't take much.

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  • 2 months later...

I know a lot of people here (including myself) have had a bitch of a time blanching almonds. How did you guys do it? My dad has discovered that it becomes far easier when you actually boil the almonds on a stove for a minute, as opposed to soaking them for a minute in boiled water (from a kettle) that's off the heat, which is what I did at first.

My original method:

Boil water in a kettle

Pour to cover almonds.

Wait 1 minute

Strain, rinse with cold water

Peel

Complain about difficulty of peeling almonds

New method:

Boil water in a saucepan on the stove

add almonds

Wait 1 minute

Strain, rinse with cold water

Peel

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for spreading the orgeat love Sam! Although if you're going to add bitter almond oil or extract, I wouldn't bother trying to hunt down one apricot kernel. Seems kind of a hassle. I add about 10% apricot kernels to my recipe. (The recipe of mine further up the thread that Sam has scaled down calls for less; I now use a higher proportion.) I can't imagine one kernel would add much flavor.

This is the reason my recipe that Chris used contains some apricot kernels (again, it's important to get bitter apricot kernels, because sweet apricot kernels don't contain much amygdalin and emulsin).

Apricots are drupes bred for sweet flesh, with little regard for the flavor of the kernel, whereas sweet almonds have had the benzaldehyde bred out of the kernels themselves. We don't eat the fruit of the almond tree, which, like most drupes, looks like a small green apricot. It's hard to know which cultivar you'll be getting in a store. I can't see anything wrong with using the kernels of apricots you buy or grow, but you may want to taste a kernel to see how much bitter flavor there is in it, and use more if the flavor is mild. You may also want to let the fruit dry and fall off the tree, as is done in almond production. The husks become drier and easier to crack, although you still have to go through the hassle of blanching them yourself.

Keep in mind that if you use apricot kernels you must boil the orgeat to neutralize the poisonous aspects of the amygdalin. If you just use bitter almond oil or exract you can just warm the almond milk to dissolve the sugar, a la Darcy O'Neil. The manufacturing process removes the poisonous part from the extract.

Historically in Italy bitter almond trees were planted among sweet ones, so when you used your almonds to make, say, amaretti cookies, they had the benzaldehyde flavor we have come to associate with almond extract. Here in the US we forbid the import of bitter almonds, so extract has come to stand in for the flavor we miss in our sweet almonds.

The Capay valley, an important organic agricultural region here in northern California, was settled by Italian immigrants. While plenty of sweet almonds are still cultivated there, many of the roads are lined with bitter almond volunteers left over from this settlement. A friend of mine owns a farm there, and I've been going up for years to harvest them. (And if anyone has access to one of those fancy tree-shakers and wants to help a gal out, I'd be much obliged. Banging a tree with a stick is ridiculous.)

Small Hand Foods

classic ingredients for pre-prohibition era cocktails

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  • 1 month later...

Here's the orgeat syrup that I make regularly for the bars I work with.

Dr Adam Elmegirab's Roasted Almond Orgeat

Makes approximately 700-750ml bottle of orgeat syrup;

-----

250g Sliced almonds (no skin)

400ml Water

350g Caster sugar (unrefined preferably)

25ml Brandy/Cognac

25ml Grand Marnier

25ml Orange or rose flower water (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. Add almonds to roasting tin, place in middle of oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Do not grease the tin or add any oil.

Remove almonds, and allow too cool. Once cooled, place the almonds in a bowl and cover with cold water. Allow to soak for 30 minutes. Drain and discard the water then use a blender or food processor to chop the almonds to a fine grind. If you need to assist the chopping process, add a little water to the food processor.

Transfer the crushed almonds to a large bowl and mix them with 400ml fresh mineral water and let stand for two hours. Place a damp cloth, cheese cloth or muslin cloth over another bowl, and strain the almond and water mixture. Squeeze the cloth to extract all the liquid. Put the chopped almonds back into the almond water, let stand for another hour and then strain again. Repeat a third time if you wish. This will get all the oils/milk/flavour out of the almonds.

Discard the almond pulp, then pour the strained liquid into a saucepan, add the sugar and simmer over a gentle heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat when the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool for fifteen minutes and then add the brandy and the orange flower or rose water. Once cooled, shake well then transfer the orgeat into a clean glass bottle and refrigerate.

-----

Tips;

- Use sliced almonds in the first soak, then crush in a food processor.

- As an alternative to roasting, you can dry fry ensuring you do not burn almonds.

- Before straining ensure you moisten the muslin cloth. I recommend moistening with the liquid you are about to filter.

- Do not allow orgeat syrup to boil, dissolve sugar over a low to medium heat.

- Adding a small piece of vanilla pod to the saucepan adds to the complexity.

- The addition of orange or rose flower water is optional but recommended.

- Shake well before use as the syrup may separate.

Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

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Yee gods: that's a lot of orange or rose flower water! What brands are you using? The ones I can get stateside would be far too powerful in that ratio.

Eek, it's meant to say 15ml.

Anyway, I can't remember it off the top of my head, it's middle-eastern though so not as heavily flavoured as the western stuff I've found.

I found some recipes that I used as a base (in which to build on) and the majority of them had a (minimum) couple of tablespoons of rose/orange flower water, which is even more than I have in my recipe.

Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

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Here's the orgeat syrup that I make regularly for the bars I work with.

Dr Adam Elmegirab's Roasted Almond Orgeat

Makes approximately 700-750ml bottle of orgeat syrup;

-----

250g Sliced almonds (no skin)

400ml Water

350g Caster sugar (unrefined preferably)

25ml Brandy/Cognac

25ml Grand Marnier

15ml Orange or rose flower water (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. Add almonds to roasting tin, place in middle of oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Do not grease the tin or add any oil.

Remove almonds, and allow too cool. Once cooled, place the almonds in a bowl and cover with cold water. Allow to soak for 30 minutes. Drain and discard the water then use a blender or food processor to chop the almonds to a fine grind. If you need to assist the chopping process, add a little water to the food processor.

Transfer the crushed almonds to a large bowl and mix them with 400ml fresh mineral water and let stand for two hours. Place a damp cloth, cheese cloth or muslin cloth over another bowl, and strain the almond and water mixture. Squeeze the cloth to extract all the liquid. Put the chopped almonds back into the almond water, let stand for another hour and then strain again. Repeat a third time if you wish. This will get all the oils/milk/flavour out of the almonds.

Discard the almond pulp, then pour the strained liquid into a saucepan, add the sugar and simmer over a gentle heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat when the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool for fifteen minutes and then add the brandy and the orange flower or rose water. Once cooled, shake well then transfer the orgeat into a clean glass bottle and refrigerate.

-----

Tips;

- Use sliced almonds in the first soak, then crush in a food processor.

- As an alternative to roasting, you can dry fry ensuring you do not burn almonds.

- Before straining ensure you moisten the muslin cloth. I recommend moistening with the liquid you are about to filter.

- Do not allow orgeat syrup to boil, dissolve sugar over a low to medium heat.

- Adding a small piece of vanilla pod to the saucepan adds to the complexity.

- The addition of orange or rose flower water is optional but recommended.

- Shake well before use as the syrup may separate.

Adjusted recipe to have 15ml of orange or rose flower water, not 25ml. Apologies.

Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters - Bitters

The Jerry Thomas Project - Tipplings and musings

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  • 7 months later...

This may be a dumb question but keep in mind that I'm pretty new to this cocktail stuff while I ask it anyway. With the comments that the homemade stuff could use a little boost of almond flavor, is there any reason replacing the often included brandy with Luxardo Amaretto would be a bad idea? Just curious because I'm planning to make a batch in the near future.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Tri2Cook - I've never needed to boost the flavor with my recipe. I use skinless marcona almonds from nutsonline.com and this recipe http://fxcuisine.com/default.asp?language=2&Display=26&resolution=high. I roast the almonds a bit first.

I've also tried the recipe with pistachios, hazelnuts, and black walnuts (which are weirdly wonderful). Obviously, the rose and orange waters were adjusted/discarded based on the nut profile. Not all of the above worked for cocktails, but they were interesting to play with.

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I have some friends who have been telling me that you really don't need to blanch the almonds before using them to make orgeat.

I experimented with a small batch.

While I can't say there is an appreciable flavor from the almond skins...

I will say, unless you prefer your orgeat being a lovely chocolate brown in color, you should probably blanch them.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I have some friends who have been telling me that you really don't need to blanch the almonds before using them to make orgeat.

I experimented with a small batch.

While I can't say there is an appreciable flavor from the almond skins...

I will say, unless you prefer your orgeat being a lovely chocolate brown in color, you should probably blanch them.

Had some Orgeat this year made with almonds that not only had not been blanched, but had been toasted beforehand as well. I have to say, it made me question Orgeat Orthodoxy quite a bit. I'm not quite sure how well it would work across the board in lieu of traditional orgeat, but I certainly think it has potential to improve some drinks...Japanese came to mind.

[Credit due to Robby Cimmino of Republic Steakhouse in College Station and occasionally at Anvil in Houston]

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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I've tried a couple toasted almond orgeats and while I think they are lovely, I'm still on the fence about whether they are appropriate for all applications.

As you mention, for brown liquor drinks, sure.

But for Gin or Absinthe drinks, not so much.

I recently made a batch of pumpkin seed orgeat/horchata where I toasted them and thought it added a great flavor. But then, there's no real historical precedent for how a pumpkin seed orgeat should taste.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I'm not doing a long or dark toast -- just enough to bring out the flavor a bit. It may be because I use marconas, but the end product seems spot-on to me, no roasted taste and also no need to pump up the flavor with extract or whatnot.

I've mode both unblanched and blanched versions and definitely prefer the latter.

Without perusing the whole threat, anyone tried it with barley?

Edited by 12BottleBar (log)
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