Leyla and I are committed to serving you delicious food and drinks, made with locally-sourced organic ingredients. In this post, I’ll focus more on the “drink” part of the picture, and share how to make alcohol infusions using organic ingredients (specifically, an apple vodka infusion).
To get started with infusing, you’ll need to have:
- mason jars
- a peeler
- a muddler (pestle – for mashing)
- a fine strainer or cheesecloth
The next step is determining which alcohol you’d like to flavor. We recommend using a mid-shelf alcohol for infusions. If you’ve never infused before, vodka is a good spirit to begin with because it doesn’t have much flavor on its own. Many different types of infusions work well in vodka. Some examples include citrus, spice, and vanilla – but you can definitely get creative with vodka!
If you prefer not to use vodka for your infusions, other nice combinations include gin and cucumber, tequila and mint, rum and cranberries, brandy and plum, or whiskey and cherries.
Using organic ingredients for an infusion is an excellent idea to prevent herbicide and pesticide residue from becoming part of the infusion. You can select your infusion based on which ingredients are organic and seasonally available. Since it’s fall now, I’ll describe how to make an apple vodka.
After washing the apples and removing their stems and cores, you can decide whether to peel them or not. Either way is fine – I prefer to leave them unpeeled, which increases both color and tannin’s. Chop the apples, and fill the mason jars half-full with the apples. The apples should be placed in carefully and either muddled lightly or left completely untouched. Fill the rest of the jars with vodka.
Cap and shake the mason jar, and leave it in a semi-cool location for steeping (definitely not in direct sunlight). Check on it and shake it at least daily, and taste it every couple of days to see how the flavor is progressing.
An infusion is complete when you decide it’s complete – so if it tastes good, you’re all set. For ingredients that are fresh, such as the apple vodka, 3-5 days is a good length of time to begin with. The ripeness of the fruit and the proof of the alcohol you’re using will influence the length of time you’ll want to infuse for (higher proof alcohols extract flavors more quickly).
Once you decide that your infusion is complete, uncap the mason jar and strain it through a strainer or cheesecloth. Try to get the liquid as close to clear as you can. You can bottle your infusion in another clean Mason jar and store it in the fridge, and it should keep for several months.
I hope this has been helpful for demonstrating how to make your own organic alcohol infusions – they make great holiday gifts! We also invite you to enjoy Café 21’s organic alcohol infusions, including Apple Cider Pluot Clove and Fig Rose Pineapple, at our Gaslamp District and University Heights locations. And warm holiday wishes from our family to yours!