UPDATE: Success! The Blackberry Lavendar vodka turned out SO good. I added the blackberries and vanilla bean for two days, strained the vodka keeping the vanilla bean and adding fresh berries for another two days. Came out beautiful!
For those of you who follow, you’ll know a while back I tried making Mango Lavendar Vodka and it did not turn out! I’m certain it was the vodka quality so this time I am using Skyy Vodka, a good medium in the vodka world. (Recipe is at the bottom of this post)
A few things I’ve learned and read along my few trials in infusing vodka:
VODKA – while lots of sites will tell you that any vodka really will do – it won’t! If you cannot sip it because it smells of rubbing alcohol and burns when it goes down – DON’T USE IT! However, there is no need to choose a top shelf spendy vodka either. So choose something you like because if you start with nasty vodka, infusing flavors won’t fix that!
INGREDIENTS (I follow the same rules for ingredients as I would cooking or baking with the ingredients, such as which parts of the produce I use and how I prep it for best flavor)
FRUIT – start by cleaning your fruit. If you have berries, crush them a little in your hands. If you’re using citrus use the skin and fruit (you use the peel in cooking definitely want to use it to infuse, the peels contain most of the flavor). Any fruits like apples, plums, pears etc… peel the fruits then cut in small pieces. For chilies, slice into strips and keep the seeds if you want the heat. It would be my recommendation NOT to use frozen, dried, canned, jarred ingredients, use the freshest ingredients for the best flavor and infusion. These other items may be packed with preservatives and if sitting in liquid already may be filled with liquid and not very good for infusing good flavors. Frozen fruits may be used, but as a last resort, just not as good as fresh. Just like cooking/baking the better ingredients, the better the product!
HERBS – to get the most flavor just tear the herbs and rub them in your hands just a little to release the oils.
THE PROCESS – The more subtle flavors (vanilla , apples, pears, melon, cucumbers) may take a week or two to infuse well enough on their own. The stronger flavors (berries, peaches, plums, citrus) may only take a few days to infuse.
PREP – remove skins, rinds, seeds, and pits. Then dice the fruit into 1 inch pieces to expose lots of the flesh to help infuse the vodka. If you use berries crush them in your hands a little (strawberries can be cut).Keep the skins on any citrus fruits (or any veggies in which the skin harbors much of the flavor) and thinly slice the citrus fruits. Think of big chunks of fruit and vegetables rather than a fine dice or puree.
FILLING – Using a glass jar with an airtight lid, such as one of those jars with a spigot used for lemonade and tea. (I got these cool glass jars with an air tight lid and little chalkboard label on the jar at World Market – $4.99) Also, The Container Store is a cool website.) Place your ingredients in the jar. Now you don’t want the ingredients to fill the jar, I would start with a modest amount of ingredients. It doesn’t take equal amounts of fruit or veggies as vodka. Check out my photo below to give you a good idea. You can adjust this after you’ve tried it a few times. Now add the vodka I used 750ml bottle.
Cover the air tight jar and put it in a nice dark room temperature place (under the sink, in a pantry, in a hall closet, somewhere dark where sun will not get to it).
Each day taste test your vodka – ingredients all infuse at different rates. Once your infusion is complete, you will need to strain the vodka to get all the little pieces of fruit, herbs, veggies, etc. out of the vodka. Place a coffee filter in a strainer and pour the vodka through it into a bowl or container. Then you can add it to a pretty container or back into the vodka bottle…your choice!
Alright, I know that all sounds like lots of information, but it’s really easy and all about trial and error with some helpful ground rules! So here we go with the recipe for the Blackberry Lavendar (Shawnee decided this flavor and I’m hoping that it will come out – since the mango lavendar did not! Here we go….)
1 pint of blackberries
750ml Skyy Vodka
1/2 vanilla bean
We purchased FRESH blackberries from the farmer’s market this weekend to make this vodka. Let me tell you these berries were so good! They melted in your mouth – amazing! Great time for blackberries!
I washed 1 pint of berries then crushed them all a little between my fingers before adding them to the jar.
I cut one vanilla bean in half and sliced it down the middle then stirred it up with the blackberries. Then I added the vodka placed the lid on the jar and placed it in my pantry.
UPDATE: I will added the lavender after the berries were all moved, and only left it in two days. Lavender can be strong and I don’t want that to over power the vodka and come off perfume like. The vanilla really shines in this vodka, it compliments blackberry so well.
(See also my vanilla extract recipe – that is pretty much infusing vodka too)
I will keep you all posted this week on the progress of our Vodka!