Cherry & Ginger Infused Vodka

8 Sep

Same stuff, different URL!

I have moved to: harvette.com

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I haven’t been doing much cooking or kitchen experimentation as of late. The end of the summer heat and humidity zapped all my motivation, this happens to me every year – but the good news is that fall is on the way and I’ve got so many plans!

Plan number one involves an infused vodka. I love making homemade vodka infusions and homemade liqueurs – they are easy, tasty, adaptable to any crazy flavor combination you can come up with, and they always impress people at parties. At least until they beg you for the recipe and you have to admit how easy it was. The hardest part is the waiting.

This vodka infusion is for a zombie themed Halloween party. I wanted an interesting flavor combination that would also turn the vodka very dark and bloody looking, without having to add additional food coloring (still a possiblity, if I need to get it JUST the right shade of old blackish blood!). I also wanted something not super sweet or too fruity, so this is why I went with an infusion instead of a liqueur.

I decided on very dark colored cherries (which had the added Halloween benefit of causing my kitchen too look like a bloody murder had taken place), ginger, pink peppercorns and allspice. I went very light on the peppercorns and the allspice, because I can always add more later after the initial infusion. I want to make sure the cherry and ginger flavors are right before going crazy with the spice. I initially wanted it to be actually spicy, using some sort of spicy pepper that would complement the sweet taste of the cherries – but I don’t know enough about hot peppers to know which one to pick, so I decided to stick to flavors I do know. I will have to read up on spicy peppers and make a cherry pepper vodka infusion one of these days, because the idea is really stuck in my head!

I don’t have a specific recipe to share, as I just made this up as I went along, but here are the general ingredients I used:

  • 1 gallon of vodka – Stick with a good quality brand. I have found that Svedka is one of the better tasting cheap vodkas, at least for liqueur purposes. I’ve never used it for an infusion, so I hope it turns out OK, though I have some ideas to “smooth” out the taste a bit.
  • 1 lb organic dark cherries – More could have been used, potentially up to 2 lbs, but that would have gotten a bit too expensive for me.
  • Fresh Ginger – I did not measure the amount of ginger I used, best guess is about 2 oz of sliced ginger. I did not grate it (which would have imparted more flavor) due to the fact that grated ginger has made previous infusions and liquers too cloudy.
  • 1 teaspoon each of crushed pink peppercorns and whole allspiceI crushed them with the back of a spoon.

Before I talk about the process I used, I’ll talk about the infusion jar I used. This is a 2 gallon jar that my sister-in-law picked up for me a couple of years ago. I’ve used it to make a bunch of different alcohol based drinks that need time to age. You can really use any glass jar large enough to hold your ingredients – just make sure it’s not plastic or any other material that can take on and impart odors and flavors into your infusion.

If your jar lid doesn’t have a seal (mine does not), place a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper between the jar and the lid for storage. Not sealing it properly can cause the alcohol to start evaporating. You definitely don’t want that!

The first step is to remove pits and stems from the cherries. You can use a cherry pitter and call it a day, but I sliced each cherry into quarters around the pit. I don’t own a cherry pitter and, actually, cherry flesh exposed to the vodka ought to give the infusion more flavor.

I put the cherries in the bottom of my jar, then added the sliced ginger along with the crushed peppercorns and allspice. Then I poured the vodka over the fruit. I put the jar in a cool, dark place that isn’t disturbed often – in my kitchen that is a seldom used cabinet that I mainly just use for liqueur, infusion and vinegar aging.

That’s it! Now I need to wait. Since I’m winging this one, I’m going to give it one week and try a bit. One thing about using fresh fruit (as opposed to just spices, vanilla, ginger or other similar items) is that too long of an infusion can sometimes impart a vegetal flavor to the vodka. I did this accidentally with apples last year, leaving them to sit for about a month (I was actually following a recipe that time!) and basically had a gallon and a half of undrinkable vodka!

I plan to re-bottle the infusion and then most likely add more pepper (potentially different varieties of peppercorn as well) to bring out a stronger peppery flavor – at least that is the plan, it might change, but I will certainly blog about the results!

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4 Responses to “Cherry & Ginger Infused Vodka”

  1. liz September 8, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    oh no. this looks super tasty and boozy. right up my alley.

  2. JennH September 9, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

    unless its for a competition, I usually use Svedka or UV; they’re both great quality for the price; especially when you are masking the flavors vs drinking them straight. I have a pineapple/ancho chilie vodka steaping right now; love the combination of spice and sweet and have done many things with peppercorns previously. I might have to steal your combination for something (though, maybe try it with a rye or light whiskey…). Keep up the boozy good work!

    • Harvette September 9, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

      yay! if you agree with my vodka choice then I’m feeling very good about it!

      I have not EVEN given any consideration to infusing anything but vodka until right now – rye or light whiskey, or even rum… hmm. I have so many ideas right now!

  3. Jenn V. September 9, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    I have some Szechuan peppercorns that I’m in love with…I wonder what they’d go well with, other than ginger, of course. They are both a little spicy and floral. Something sweeter/not as hot as both ginger and the peppercorn. You know, with all my free time, I’ll take up infusing vodka.

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