Because we can’t w(h)ine all the time, or nobody would listen to us, am I right?
Yup. That right there highlights the very reason I never pursued a career in comedy. Worked well making my students roll their eyes, though! 😁
So, I figured that I’d veer away from my usual intoxicant of choice for a couple of posts to spotlight a couple of small projects that I’ve got cooking — or I should say infusing — on the side.
The first idea rose from a need to preserve some nectarines that were starting to wrinkle, but I didn’t have any time to make something more in depth with them, such as a pie or a tart.
Instead, a colleague suggested that I chop them up and make infused vodka with them. It takes some time (from a week to a month or so, as I understand it), but it’s a unique idea I hadn’t considered and wouldn’t let the fruit go to waste.
And so, with a tip to buy an 80 proof spirit that wasn’t potato-based (for flavor purposes), I bought myself a semi-cheap bottle of rye vodka and went home to work. Because I love building flavor profiles, I added a few spices and some peaches to liven things up, especially considering the coming autumn months.
- 1 Quart jar
- 1 bottle of rye vodka, 750ml
- 3 nectarines, chopped into 1″ pieces
- 2 peaches, chopped into 1″ pieces
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
Order of Operations:
(1) Filled quart jar with chopped nectarines and peaches. I left the skin on for more flavor (and because peeling is a-n-n-o-y-i-n-g), and I washed the fruit before chopping.
(2) Inserted cinnamon sticks, and then added ground cloves and brown sugar.
(3) Filled jar with vodka to the very top. Tried not to leave any space if possible.
(4) Sealed jar, and then shook gently to mix everything up inside it. Stored away from sunlight and heat.
(5) Shook the jar every day — or every couple of days as I remembered — and started tasting the infusion after three days to see if the flavor was to my liking.
(6) Once the vodka was where I wanted it (see **NOTE** below), flavor-wise, I strained out the solids. I used a mesh colander with a coffee filter placed inside, since I used sugar.
My resources for this project (linked below) recommended refrigerating the infusion if I used fresh fruit, which I did.
Most of the recipes I found said that infusions finish doing their thing in under a week, while a few suggested a minimum of two weeks. I fully intended to taste mine after seven days (which, incidentally, fell exactly one week ago)…
**NOTE** Aaaaaaaand I got dreadfully sick that week (stupid stomach bug), which resulted in two rather unfortunate outcomes: first, I completely forgot about the vodka in the midst of my muddle-minded and pain-riddled bleh; secondly, even if I hadn’t forgotten, I sure as blue-haired Hades wasn’t going to try anything “weird” while I still felt green in the gills.
Thus, tonight I decided, fine, let’s just bite the bullet and determine whether this endeavor falls into the “success” or “fail” category.
It… doesn’t taste bad (she noted with grudging surprise). Really. I’m kinda digging it, to be honest.
I definitely left it a liiiiiittle too long… or did I???
Thinking more on it, the stuff tastes more like a liqueur rather than a simple infusion. Which, in hindsight, makes total sense because I added sugar to the recipe and (though unintentionally) added more time. 😅
Anyway, the spices REALLY came through in the final product, almost over the top, with some fruit nuances floating around in the mix somewhere middling.
Next time, I’ll tone down the cinnamon for sure and start tasting it at the five-day mark. While not what I expected, this turned out to be a nice treat that I absolutely recommend and will sample throughout the season. Maybe I’ll share a bit.
If you’re wanting more of an infusion, I’d suggest using one cinnamon stick instead of two, and adding a couple more nectarines or peaches while eliminating the brown sugar.
However, if you’re looking for more of a deep, warm liqueur, follow exactly what I did, adding maybe another 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and start tasting at the seven-day mark. I stopped at two weeks, but you could feasibly infuse the vodka for a lot longer.
Check back later this week for the second half of the Vodka Ventures!
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