We try to keep at least two infusion jars going all the time! But…what ARE infusions?
Take any fruit, vegetable, grain or nut and cover that with a spiritous liquor, leave for about 2 weeks, strain out the fruit, vegetable, grain or nut and you will have infused the essential taste from the item into the spirits. You can do it at home easily. Make sure the fruit, vegetable, grain or nut you use is cleaned thoroughly before use. Use a tightly covered container. Store the container in a low light, even temperature spot. Here are some of our favorites:
Named after a famous Italian spirit! Start with a liter of medium priced vodka. (Moderate priced vodka may have a flavor of it’s own and there is no need to use the premium vodka since we are flavoring it.) Take the peel of three large lemons. Use the yellow peel only. No white, please. Place the peel into the vodka, cover tightly, store out of the way for 2 weeks, strain, throw away the peel and taste. Want more flavor? Repeat the process. Less flavor? Shorten the infusion time to 7 or 10 days. Perfect with a splash of soda over ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
GREEN CHILE VODKA
What a Bloody Mary this makes!! We take six to eight large Big Jim green chilies from Hatch, New Mexico ( or whatever chilies you can find), roast and peel (but don’t rinse! or, if you just can’t stand it, rinse lightly) and add to a liter of moderate priced vodka. (Now, the flavor is so strong that even if the moderate priced vodka has a slight taste, it will be overwhelmed) Cover tightly and store out of the way for 2 weeks. Taste and, if it’s not HOT enough: roast, peel and add a jalapeno. Start taste testing after 3 days and taste every 2 days until the fire is right for you. Strain and discard the peppers. You may wish to strain through a paper coffee filter for a clearer product.
Icy, crisp Green Chile Infused Vodka, shaken, not stirred, with a breath of dry vermouth.
GREEN CHILE BLOODY MARY
Use Clamato Juice instead of straight Tomato Juice, shake with the Green Chile I Infused Vodka and taste. Then, add your favorite flavors: celery salt, Tabasco, Worchestershire sauce to taste.
FILTHY DIRTY GREEN CHILE MARTINI
Use Olive Juice to make it Dirty. Use three chopped green olives to make it Filthy. Add the Green Chile Infused Vodka and shake, shake, shake!
Oh, what a tropical flavor! Peel and pit the Mango. Use two fresh chopped Mangoes to a liter of moderately priced vodka. Follow the infusion process and Ole’! Now, you will need a tablespoon or two – to taste – of (fresh or frozen) mango puree in intensify the flavor. You can purchase the puree or make it yourself with a couple of mangos and a blender. Just make your Margarita your way with the Mango Tequila and that spoonful or two of mango puree. Tasty!
BLACK CHERRY BOURBON
Now, here is were you can taste the premium Bourbon if you decide to use it. But, medium priced Bourbon is pretty good, too!! If budget constrains, then go ahead and use the moderate priced Bourbon. You need about one half pound fresh, pitted cherries to a liter of bourbon or about 2 cups of thawed, frozen cherries. Can’t recommend canned to you. Experiment if you want. We preferred the fresh or the frozen.
TO MACERATE OR NOT TO MACERATE, THAT IS THE QUESTION
In previous recipes, the liquor has come directly into contact with the flavor producing flesh. But, now, these cherries are tight little balls with that skin…and we can’t (don’t want to) peel each cherry.
Macerate means to pound, grind, chew and, in our circumstances, it means to
gently break up the cherries but not mash to a pulp. You want the cherries recognizable but broken so that more than the pit hole of the flesh is visible and accessible to the liquor. So….like most things in Life, a little bit is a good thing
And Now For Something Completely Different…
Chile Infused Oil By Dave DeWitt
Canola oil is the best choice for creating chile-infused oil because it has a neutral flavor and contains very little saturated fat. Any oil with a smoke point over 250 degrees F. can also be used. Olive oil is another good pick, and you can experiment with how the chiles complement its mild flavor. Use 2 to 4 tablespoons of any chopped chile you like. Recommended quantities for some of my favorite chilies are below, but have fun creating oil that gives the perfect kiss of heat to suit your tastes. The food borne illness, botulism, is a risk if food safety practices are not observed, so extra precautions are taken in this recipe. Please follow it as written.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Pour the canola oil into a 2-cup size glass measuring cup. Add the chopped chiles. Place the measuring cup on a pie plate or baking dish in the center of the oven. Leave the oil to infuse for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Using a candy or deep fry thermometer, check the temperature of the oil. If it reaches 250 degrees F, put the measuring cup on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. If the oil does not reach 250 degrees F, return to the oven for an additional 20 minutes and test again.
Place a coffee filter over a clean and completely dry glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Slowly pour a small amount of the oil into the filter, letting it drain into the jar before pouring more oil. If the oil appears cloudy or separates into layers after straining, moisture is still present in the oil. If this happens, return it to the oven until it is clear. You may also refrigerate the cloudy oil right away and use it within a week. If the oil is clear, cover the jar, label with the type of oil and the date and refrigerate for up to a month. If you do not use all the oil within a month, discard any leftovers.