Infusing your own vodka is the best way to get in touch with your inner chemist. It also is a great way to impress your friends at cocktail parties or create a memorable gift for the person you know who has everything. Here you will find some simple steps to follow to turn your passion for spirits into a new hobby.
Step 1: Choose Your Vodka
Clearly the most important step of all, choosing the right vodka for your concoction is paramount, as no amount of apple slices will cover up the chemical taste of anything that comes out of a plastic bottle. Even if this is your first go-round, skip the bottom shelf entirely and start with something in the mid-range category, but if you are looking to create a memorable experience for guests on a special occasion, then definitely go for a high-end vodka, such as that offered by Archie Rose - you will notice the difference.
Step 2: Choose Your Flavor
There are limitless possibilities here. Various fruit flavors naturally come to mind, but you can also use things like ginger, chili peppers, pickles, candy, and even bacon! It’s tempting to want to try any number of the enticing recipes you can easily find online, but I strongly suggest practicing with a single flavour before attempting any fanciful mixtures. This will allow you the easiest route to choosing the right amount of ingredients. If you are infusing a full liter of vodka, here are some guidelines:
- Fruit: Depending on the size, use one to four pieces. A good guideline is to use about two large apples’ worth. One piece is usually sufficient for larger fruits, while a smaller fruit, such as a plum, can take as many as three or four.
- Berries: Generally around one cup is advisable, although adding a bit more won’t hurt.
- Peppers: This all depends on your penchant for spiciness. Add as a few or as many as you want.
- Fresh Herbs: You should use one to three fist-fulls of the herb. This varies depending on the potency. Try half of this amount when using dried herbs or spices.
Step 3: Prepare Your Ingredients
If you are infusing your vodka with fruit, it is crucial to make sure that they have been thoroughly washed, lest some of that dirt may wind up contaminating your batch. Make sure that any pits, seeds, or stems have been carefully removed as well. You will want to slice your fruits finely, so as to increase the surface area that will be exposed to the spirit, which serves to speed up the process.
For larger fruits, such as mangoes or pineapples, cut them up into large chunks. If you are using citrus fruits, it is necessary to use a peeler to separate the colorful part of the peel from the pith, which could add some unwelcome bitterness to your vodka. With berries, leave them whole, but bruise them ever so slightly by squeezing them gently. When infusing with herbs, crush them gently to release their flavor. For peppers, put a cut down the center, yet not so deep as to risk having the seeds spill out.
Step 4: Ready to Infuse
Find yourself a clean, airtight container, preferably a glass jar with a tight lid. You aren’t limited to a single container, so feel free to split it up as necessary, with the amount of vodka you are using to create your batch ultimately determining how many jars you need. Mason jars are particularly effective and easy to find - and if you don’t use them all for your booze, you can use them for a host of other DIY projects that use Mason jars.
Go ahead and fill your containers with vodka, seal them, and store them some place safe that they won’t tip over and break. You can even put them on your kitchen counter; just make sure that they aren’t exposed to direct sunlight.
Step 5: Shake and Sample
Most infusion recipes will be ready between two and five days, but the process is hardly scientific. Strongly flavoured ingredients like citrus fruits tend to infuse rather quickly, but softly flavoured ingredients can easily take a week or longer. Shaking the jar once per day will hasten the process, but wait two days before sampling it to see it if is to your liking. If it isn’t potent enough for you, continue shaking it daily and sample it each day thereafter until you are satisfied with the flavour.
Step 6: Strain Your Vodka
Once the right flavour is achieved, you are going to want to strain your vodka into a new bottle. Leaving the ingredients mixed in is not an option, as the flavor can become overpowering after time. If you intend to use all of your infusion quickly, then straining it with fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth should do the trick. However, if you are planning on storing it for a week or longer, it is important that you remove as much residue as possible, as even tiny stray bits can create off flavours if left to sit. In this case, try straining the vodka twice through cheesecloth or a coffee filter.