Here is how to make almost five gallons of plum infused vodka. The resulting liqueur is fragrant, bright pink and smooth. This recipe was inspired by the infused plum brandies famous in the Balkans.
9 - 1.75 liter bottles of vodka
20 lbs fresh-picked plums
2 lbs turbinado sugar
8 inch peeled, sliced ginger
1 vanilla bean (optional)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 large, heavy bottomed pots
9 - 68 oz. bottles with wide mouths (you could do it with smaller ones, but make sure they have wide mouths)
Step 1: Locate Plums Nearby (June-July Only!)
Step 2: Pick the Tree
When picking plums, you may want to put a plastic bag into your fruit picker to keep the tiny fruits from falling out. It's also a good idea to use a hard-sided bucket or basket to carry your plums home in (especially if you're on a bike!) to keep them from getting smushed.
We used three types of plums: Santa Rosa, Kauter Vesuvius Cherry Plums, and these little red ones.
Step 3: Wash the Plums
Wash them really well: fill the sink with water and drain using colander. Repeat three times.
Step 4: Sort the Plums and Smush Them
Take the clean plums and sort them: the hard ones set aside to eat fresh later, the soft ones get de-pitted and put in a pot. It's fun to have a lot of friends to help split the labor.
Step 5: Prepare the Pot
Prepare the vanilla bean by splitting it lengthwise. Add one pound of sugar, a cinnamon stick and half of the vanilla bean and ginger to each pot. If it's not juicy enough, add some water (we didn't need to).
Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down and simmer uncovered.
Step 6: Stir and Cook Down
Stir the pot, scraping any sugars that build up in the bottom of the pot to prevent burning. Simmer slowly, cook down for 15-30 minutes or until the mixture is reduced by 2/3.
Step 7: Filter and Combine
Put the colander in the large bowl. Pour the contents of the pot (don't burn yourself) into the colander. Pull out the cinnamon stick and compost it. Find the vanilla bean and cut it up and divide it between your storage jars. Add the filtered plum solids to the jars and fill up with vodka. If there is more room at the top, add a little of the syrup that you filtered out. Once full, seal all the jars.
If there's extra syrup left over, put it in bottles. The syrup can be stored in the fridge for a month, and can be added to seltzer to make soda, put on pancakes, or added to cocktails.
Step 8: Did You Find More Trees? Register and Share Them! (optional)
Step 9: Filter the Solids Out of the Liquor and Enjoy!
After a month or two, filter the plum solids out of the liquor, put it into bottles, and then enjoy. Delicious chilled and sipped.