It’s just plain old cold for Southwest Oklahoma. It is 5 degrees this morning. Grass for our small herd of longhorn cows is getting to be in short supply. It’s almost a daily chore to keep fresh clean bedding and litter for the cows, horse, donkey and chickens.
Thank goodness we have a small pond other wise I would be breaking ice in their water tank twice a day so the livestock can have access to fresh water.
My long range 14 day weather forecast is calling for continued very cold weather, but, it looks like we will have another dry snow-less Christmas in southwest OK.
After I get past Christmas and New Years holiday’s it will be time to start look at late winter and spring gardening projects that need doing.
But for now it’s time to make sweet holiday liqueur.
Homemade Liqueur you will need a bottle of ‘cheap’ vodka, (for me the lower the alcohol content the better), sugar syrup, fruit’s, spices of your choice.
1 – bottle vodka
Fruit and spices of your choice
1- bottle to use in aging your homemade liqueur
No fruit should be considered off limits. If you can eat it, it can be used in making homemade Liqueur’s.
I also like to use cinnamon sticks, coffee beans and vanilla beans.
Hint: Soak beans in a small amount of boiling water for 1 hour before adding beans and soak water to your vodka and sugar syrup.
Fruit: Orange zest, lemon zest, kumquats, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, peaches, tart apples, pineapple, pomegranate seeds, dried apricots, or dried sour cherries. Whole fruit should be sliced and/or mashed to allow the juices to escape and let the liquor come in contact with as much surface area as possible. Leave the skin on for maximum flavor.
Herbs and spices: Vanilla beans, coriander seeds, peppercorns, hot chiles, lemongrass, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, whole coffee beans, dill, thyme, basil, tarragon, rosemary. Be sparing using clove or nutmeg too much of these ingredients can produce a numbing effect in your mouth!
Try combining a couple of different flavors in the same batch, how about apple-cinnamon, chile-lemongrass, lemon-tarragon, orange-cranberry, or raspberry-vanilla? Just don’t try to pack too many different flavors into one bottle.
Give it a Rest
Once you’ve chosen your alcohol and your flavorings, simply combine them.
Put flavorings right into the liquor bottle.
Keep the container in a dark place and leave it at room temperature. If you don’t have a dark cupboard in your house, put the bottles in a paper grocery bag and stir or rotate them a couple of times a day.
Depending on how potent your flavorings are, you’ll need to let them steep for anywhere from a day to a few weeks. Most fruit needs a full two weeks for all the flavor to be transferred to the alcohol, whereas chiles and most fresh spices only need a couple of days.
Smell and taste the infusions to decide when each is ready to strain and bottle.
Strain Your Resources
If you’ve used mashed fruit, your infusion is now going to have bits of sediment in the bottom. To get rid of it, simply line a strainer with a coffee filter and slowly pour the liquor through.
Adding a Little Sweetness
When sweetening your liqueurs, don’t add sugar directly to the alcohol it will take too long to dissolve and you won’t be able to tell right away how sweet it is. Instead, make a simple syrup of two parts sugar to one part water. Combine them in a saucepan and simmer them on the stove until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let the syrup cool to room temperature.
Once a liqueur has been sweetened, most of them taste better after they’ve had a chance to “age” for a few days to a few weeks. Aging allows the flavors to mellow and blend.
Bottle it Up
Scour local import stores, thrift stores or your own cupboards to find interesting glass bottles (they have air tight tops. Have fun creating your own custom labels and “garnish” each finished bottle by dropping in a small quantity of the original ingredients (a few berries, a twist of citrus zest, an herb sprig).
Most homemade infusions are wonderful when served unadorned, straight out of the freezer. They are also nice when mixed into a fresh cup coffee or drizzled over a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.
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