Halloween is nearly upon us and that means one thing: the holidays are right around the corner, and with it, neighbor gifts and hostess gifts and co-worker gifts to think about. If you start this infused vodka now, you'll have a great gift to hand to the hostess of a party in a few weeks without much work or fuss on your part!
Step 1: Ingredients to Make Your Gift(s).
What you will need:
Big glass bottle. Something that has a cap that locks or clicks on real well. You'll be shaking this sucker every day for a few weeks and you don't want a lid that flies off. I reused a glass milk bottle I found at a grocery store. I made my initial batch of infused vodka in a small Ball canning jar (1 cup) with a screw top lid. I make small batches first to see if my flavor combinations are good and I don't waste a lot of vodka if it happens to not turn out.
1 1/2 cups+ pureed pumpkin. I don't care if you roast a small pie pumpkin or if you take a shortcut and buy the pumpkin already pureed and canned. Whatever works best with you and your holiday schedule is fine for this infused vodka. If you do roast your own, puree the pumpkin pieces rather than keep it in large chunks, because it gives more surface area for the vodka to infuse the pumpkin flavor in a shorter amount of time.
A heaping Tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice. Again, however you come across this--by making it yourself or buying it already mixed together--is fine for this recipe. You can search Instructables for a homemade pumpkin pie spice recipe so I won't list it here.
2 1/4 cups *good* vodka. Nothing too good (aka super expensive) because the subtle notes of the high end vodka will be lost in the strong flavors of the pumpkin pie, but nothing too cheap either. You can't hide crap vodka taste with even the best infusing ingredients. Middle of the road vodka is what we are talking 'bout here.
1-2 vanilla beans. Whole vanilla beans pods, usually sold two to a spice jar at grocery stores.
Pour everything into your glass bottle/jar and give it a good shake with the lid securely on. Store the bottle in a dark cabinet that you pass by daily and can remember to shake at least once a day. You'll want to shake it once a day for 2-3 weeks. You can taste it every now and then to see how it is coming along and if it has infused to your liking.
Step 2: Time to Strain and Bottle This Thing!
So a couple of weeks has passed and you have shaken your bottle every day or so. You've tasted your concoction and it tastes good--time to strain and bottle this amber beauty. I find that a reusable coffee filter that I found at the grocery store works perfectly for straining the fine solution of pumpkin from the vodka. You've patiently let it sit for weeks in your cabinet, what is a little longer in a strainer going to hurt? Let it sit in the strainer while you go about your holiday cooking and stir it every so often as you walk by it until it stops dripping. Discard the pumpkin puree on top, and put the infused vodka into a pretty bottle for giving.
Step 3: Put in a Pretty Bottle and Give Away to Your Favorite Person.
Find a pretty bottle to package your infused vodka creation, and make a label for it. I've found them here and here. I've even made a 4-pack of different holiday infused vodka flavors and put them in frappachino bottles to give away!
This is a great thoughtful homemade gift that seems difficult to create (but was actually quite the opposite) and will hopefully take at least some of the stress away of gift giving this holiday season.