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bigbear

Homemade Liqueurs

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If I ever find bourbon here under $200 a bottle, I'll try that. In the meantime, though, I've got excellent aguardiente puro that should do in a pinch, and a cute little cask to oak it up a bit afterwards.

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For the first time ever, we got Meyer lemons over here in December. Among other things, I made "Meyerello", i.e. limoncello. Everything fine so far, except that I used unrefined (well, at least not totally refined) sugar.

At first I didn't notice anything, but there is some brown gunk floating in my beautiful limoncello. It seems mostly suspended, but with tendency to accumulate more at the top of the bottle than at the bottom. Can I assume that there are just the impurities from the semi-brown sugar? I used 96 % alcohol, diluted 1:1 with distilled water (+ 400 g sugar to the 2 l of liquid). At that alcohol concentration, I don't think anything should be growing in there, no? (Plus it's happened in all eight bottles.)

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Hi Pep.

Yes, I've got something 'growing' in my attempt at Cynar at the moment. As you say, nothing should be able to!

I'd suggest filtering. I think the best bet is several layers of cheesecloth/muslin, although you'll have to accept a certain amount of loss from soaking into the material. People recommend coffee filters but I find they're really slow (read: you'll be hours waiting for the last bit to go through) and there's always the risk that the wet paper will let go at a crucial moment (read: just when you've got 7½ bottlesworth nicely filtered and still under the funnel).

If the stuff still smells good, and I can't see why it wouldn't, it should still be eminently drinkable. Good luck!

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Hi Pep,

I've got the same thing in my latest batches of Limoncello and Limecello; since I use "pure" sugar I assumed that it was either some impurity from the citrus itself (read, pectin or other long-chain goodies) or from the gum arabic I used in the gomme syrup preparation (because I like the smoothness it imparts).

I just skim it off using a teensy little spoon, and it doesn't re-accumulate, so no harm and no foul.

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I'm going to take a stab at making my own banana liqueur. The LCBO carries two, one of the low end candy-in-a-bottle variety and one that has good reviews online but is expensive (~$48 bottle) and for some strange reason, they only sell it in cases of six bottles. I'm not sure I'm willing to spend $48 on crème de banane, I'm definitely not willing to spend close to $300 on it. So I perused some recipes that turned up via google and settled on going basic. I just want banana, no spices or supporting cast members. So I'm going to soak sliced ripe bananas in rum for a few days, strain it, add sugar syrup and call it done. My question is, should I use one of my 80 proof rums or the Wray & Nephew overproof? I know the recommendation is generally to use higher proof spirits for projects like this, just wondering if the W&N funkiness will work with the banana.

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I can picture something delicious with Smith & Cross, if you have it! :)

 

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Given the limitations I know you face with the LCBO where you live - I'd probably go with the Wray and Nephew. Probably the best overproof you will find.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, FrogPrincesse said:

I can picture something delicious with Smith & Cross, if you have it! :)

 

 

8 hours ago, Kerry Beal said:

Given the limitations I know you face with the LCBO where you live - I'd probably go with the Wray and Nephew. Probably the best overproof you will find.


Thanks! I have the Wray & Nephew and the Smith & Cross. I also have a bottle of Lemon Hart 151. The reason I only asked about the W&N is because it is semi-easy for me to replace when it runs out. The S&C is easier to get than when I initially got it now that the LCBO is doing the online ordering thing so that's an option for this project I hadn't considered. The Lemon Hart involved some risky business and trusting someone I didn't know at all from the Tiki Central forums to acquire (at that time they couldn't get S&C in their province so we did a swap) and may very well be irreplaceable unless the LCBO picks it up someday. So I'm not willing to use it for something like this. I'm not often willing to use it at all.


Edited by Tri2Cook (log)
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Most of the banana liqueur recipes I've seen that broach the subject at all are recommending storing it in the fridge and/or using it within 2 months. If I keep the alcohol content somewhere in the 35% - 40% range is there any other reason why those recommendations might apply? I'm hoping to be able to do unrefrigerated and a longer shelf life than 2 months. I'm thinking the W&N 63% allows me plenty of room to get the desired sweetness level while still keeping the alcohol content in the range I mentioned.

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I have a book - Homemade Liqueurs (1979) by Dona and Mel Meilach - which I've found useful for ratios of fruit and timing.  

For banana, they suggest macerating/steeping for 1 week before straining.  They say it can be consumed at that point but that "a 2-3 month maturing period will result in a richer flavor."

They add a vanilla bean and sweeten the banana liqueur with sugar syrup but also say to play with making it sweet or dry.

Their general recommendation is to store at RT and that non-citrus fruit-infusions tend to lose some of their punch by around 8 months. 

 

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58 minutes ago, blue_dolphin said:

I have a book - Homemade Liqueurs (1979) by Dona and Mel Meilach - which I've found useful for ratios of fruit and timing.  

For banana, they suggest macerating/steeping for 1 week before straining.  They say it can be consumed at that point but that "a 2-3 month maturing period will result in a richer flavor."

They add a vanilla bean and sweeten the banana liqueur with sugar syrup but also say to play with making it sweet or dry.

Their general recommendation is to store at RT and that non-citrus fruit-infusions tend to lose some of their punch by around 8 months. 

 


Thanks! That's exactly the information I was looking (and hoping) for. For the small volume I'm going to do, if I haven't used it by 8 months, I deserve to have it go bad. :D

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You call it liqueur; does that mean you plan on adding sugar at some point? You could make a banana-flavored rum and I feel that it might be more versatile. I suggested Smith & Cross because a few years ago I taste a wonderful banana-flavored version that one of my bartender friends had made. I will try to see if I can find more details about how it was made. I know it didn't take more than a week and if my memory is correct, he infused banana twice.

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5 hours ago, FrogPrincesse said:

You call it liqueur; does that mean you plan on adding sugar at some point? You could make a banana-flavored rum and I feel that it might be more versatile. I suggested Smith & Cross because a few years ago I taste a wonderful banana-flavored version that one of my bartender friends had made. I will try to see if I can find more details about how it was made. I know it didn't take more than a week and if my memory is correct, he infused banana twice.


Yeah, I'll be adding sugar after the infusion. I agree that a straight banana flavored rum would probably be more versatile in the big picture but the entire purpose for this particular batch is for use in recipes from Beachbum Berry Remixed. I fought it for a long time but I've come to accept that my drinking habits tend to lean more towards Mr. Howell than Mr. Bond. So I'm going to see if I can knock the dust off of some of those bottles in my cabinet by making this the summer of tiki.

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So I gave sliced ripe bananas 4 days in some Wray & Nephew. Strained them out, added fresh bananas and gave it another 3 days. Strained them out today, added sugar syrup and put it on the shelf to hopefully improve. If I rated it today, I would call it a waste of rum, bananas and time but I'm hoping the bananas will find their way to the front with a little shelf time. If not, I have 500ml of sweet ~70 proof rum with more banana in the nose than the mouth. On the bright side, I have a nice mass of rummy bananas saved from the two rounds of infusion in the freezer that I'm going to combine with fresh ripe bananas and use in banana bread or cake.

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22 hours ago, Tri2Cook said:

So I gave sliced ripe bananas 4 days in some Wray & Nephew. Strained them out, added fresh bananas and gave it another 3 days. Strained them out today, added sugar syrup and put it on the shelf to hopefully improve. If I rated it today, I would call it a waste of rum, bananas and time but I'm hoping the bananas will find their way to the front with a little shelf time. If not, I have 500ml of sweet ~70 proof rum with more banana in the nose than the mouth. On the bright side, I have a nice mass of rummy bananas saved from the two rounds of infusion in the freezer that I'm going to combine with fresh ripe bananas and use in banana bread or cake.

Was feeding the child a particularly tasty banana tonight after reading this - so I raided the shelf (actually a box on the living room floor), found some panela rum, cut up a banana from the same batch into it. I think I'll drag out the ultrasonic cleaner and give it a little buzz later.

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23 minutes ago, Kerry Beal said:

Was feeding the child a particularly tasty banana tonight after reading this - so I raided the shelf (actually a box on the living room floor), found some panela rum, cut up a banana from the same batch into it. I think I'll drag out the ultrasonic cleaner and give it a little buzz later.


Interested to see how it turns out for you. Like I said, at the time of bottling, I wasn't too impressed with the result I got.

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25 minutes ago, Tri2Cook said:


Interested to see how it turns out for you. Like I said, at the time of bottling, I wasn't too impressed with the result I got.

I've found time works wonders on most infusions.

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19 minutes ago, Kerry Beal said:

I've found time works wonders on most infusions.


Yeah, I've noticed that too. My year old homemade falernum lost it's rough edges and is really nice but unfortunately it lost most of it's lime too. I have a bottle of allspice liqueur I made 5 years ago that has become a thing of beauty. I actually tasted that one today. I'm assuming these things I make are still considered liqueurs, I don't know the rules on that stuff. I generally leave the ABV much higher than most of the recipes say to. Generally somewhere in the 35% or so range. I just use higher ratio sugar syrups so I can get the same sweetness with less added water.

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A surprisingly large amount of improvement with just 1 week of rest. The initial harshness has backed off and the banana has come forward... but not as much as I hoped. I suspect that part isn't going to get much better than where it's at now but time on the shelf costs nothing so we'll see. At this point, it's starting to taste pretty nice but I'm not sure the banana aspect is powerful enough to make it's mark in tiki drinks. I'm going to give it another week or so on the shelf and then mix something with it and see what happens.

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On 17/04/2017 at 10:51 AM, Kerry Beal said:

I've found time works wonders on most infusions.

 

It absolutely does.  As I've mentioned over here, my latest batch of nocino was the nearest thing to actively unpleasant when first bottled, but as of a few days ago I can report it has calmed down considerably and it seems like it will be rather nice in another month or so.

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I'm noodling over how to make a toasted sesame liqueur.  I was thinking I'd follow the rough outline of Katie Loeb's limoncello instructions -- toast sesame seeds in the oven, cool, let sit in 100 proof vodka at least a few days, strain, add simple syrup to taste to balance the sweet/umami/bitter, then top off with sufficient 80 proof vodka to bring alcohol quotient up to 30% by volume (that is, assuming it required enough simple syrup to drop it below 30% -- who knows? I could end up adding water instead to go the other way).  So my questions are -- what volume of sesame seeds should I use per liter of overproof vodka?  Any guesses on how long I show leave it to infuse?  And are there any concerns about the alcohol drawing the oil from the seeds and into the finished product -- and if so, should/how do I then remove the oil?  Or is there some totally different methodology I should pursue?  Thanks in advance for any advice/experience you have!

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3 hours ago, PassionateAmateur said:

I'm noodling over how to make a toasted sesame liqueur.  I was thinking I'd follow the rough outline of Katie Loeb's limoncello instructions -- toast sesame seeds in the oven, cool, let sit in 100 proof vodka at least a few days, strain, add simple syrup to taste to balance the sweet/umami/bitter, then top off with sufficient 80 proof vodka to bring alcohol quotient up to 30% by volume (that is, assuming it required enough simple syrup to drop it below 30% -- who knows? I could end up adding water instead to go the other way).  So my questions are -- what volume of sesame seeds should I use per liter of overproof vodka?  Any guesses on how long I show leave it to infuse?  And are there any concerns about the alcohol drawing the oil from the seeds and into the finished product -- and if so, should/how do I then remove the oil?  Or is there some totally different methodology I should pursue?  Thanks in advance for any advice/experience you have!

 

I recommend grain alcohol for better infusions.

 

That said, fats can be a problem. Some may fall out of suspension when you dilute, some things are just so oily/fatty (bacon) that pools of oil/fat form on top of the bottle naturally. This can be dangerous, as the fat can sustain foodborne illness causing nasties.

 

IMO, just guessing here, a tablespoon of freshly toasted seeds should be enough to flavor a liter of finished product. They are pretty strong.

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Posted (edited)
On ‎2017‎-‎04‎-‎16 at 4:53 PM, Kerry Beal said:

Was feeding the child a particularly tasty banana tonight after reading this - so I raided the shelf (actually a box on the living room floor), found some panela rum, cut up a banana from the same batch into it. I think I'll drag out the ultrasonic cleaner and give it a little buzz later.


I stumbled across a post on the Cocktail Chronicles blog while looking at a drink recipe where somebody said they had very good results with their homemade banana liqueur using dried bananas. I may give that a shot at another time either alone or in combination with fresh bananas. Thought I'd mention it in case it sounds interesting and you aren't already past that point with yours.


Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

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Posted (edited)
42 minutes ago, Tri2Cook said:


I stumbled across a post on the Cocktail Chronicles blog while looking at a drink recipe where somebody said they had very good results with their homemade banana liqueur using dried bananas. I may give that a shot at another time either alone or in combination with fresh bananas. Thought I'd mention it in case it sounds interesting and you aren't already past that point with yours.

 

Past it - I filtered it today. Haven't tasted it yet though.

 

Ok - tasted it - not too bad!


Edited by Kerry Beal (log)
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5 hours ago, Lisa Shock said:

 

I recommend grain alcohol for better infusions.

 

That said, fats can be a problem. Some may fall out of suspension when you dilute, some things are just so oily/fatty (bacon) that pools of oil/fat form on top of the bottle naturally. This can be dangerous, as the fat can sustain foodborne illness causing nasties.

 

IMO, just guessing here, a tablespoon of freshly toasted seeds should be enough to flavor a liter of finished product. They are pretty strong.

Thanks very much for the input!

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