Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer Beverage Perfection

How to Make Strawberry-Infused Vodka

From start to finish this takes about 2 weeks.

Here’s what you will need:

6 pints ripe, fresh strawberries (a half-flat, or roughly 6 pounds, will leave you with some leftovers for sampling or other uses) It's worth looking for the best, ripest berries you can find. The quality of the berries is directly related to the flavor of the finished product. If you can get locally grown berries, they will be sweeter & riper than those grown for shipment. Every year I look forward to getting super-sweet and tiny Skagit Valley berries at the farmers’ market.  Better yet, get out there and pick your own.  Sunshine is good for you, and the finished product will taste better for the effort.  (Don’t forget the sunscreen.)

1.75 liters good quality vodka Use unflavored vodka. I've been using 360 brand, which comes in a reseal-able bottle with a metal clasp thingy (like the old Grolsch beer bottles), but any decent brand will do. I just bought Svenska for my latest experiment with pears. I've never tried this brand, but it was on sale and lives on the top shelf at the liquor store, so I figure it will be good.

a big glass jar with a lid that seals well  Mine has a rubber seal & metal clasp, but anything with a tight-fitting lid will do. A wide mouth makes it easier get the berries in & out. I think mine is about a gallon.

You will also need a strainer of some kind (colander with small holes will work, but I use a fine mesh stainless steel strainer), a big bowl or pot (preferably stainless steel) that your strainer fits over, a cheesecloth for squeezing out the last of the goodness from the berries (I put this in a separate container - it ends up kind of syrupy and is tasty over ice... or maybe ice cream! hmmm...), and a small-neck funnel for putting the booze back in its bottles.

Especially during the bottling process, an apron (or clothes you don’t care about) is a good idea, unless you’re into the pink-polka-dots look.

The instructions:

1.  Rinse the berries.

2.  Cut off the leaves and stems, the cut each berry in half.  Sample a few, just to make sure they’re okay.  Quality control is important!  Discard any berries that are under-ripe, moldy, or overly squishy.  A few bumps & bruises are fine – cosmetics are not important, and ripe berries tend to be easily dented.  If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t use it.

3.  Put all of the prepared berries in your big glass jar.

4.  Pour vodka over the berries until they are all covered. Save the empty bottles for storing the finished product.

5.  Seal the jar and put it in a cool, dark place.

6.  Wait 2 weeks.

7.  Set the strainer over a bowl that’s big enough to hold the contents of the whole jar.  The strawberries will shrink and give up their tasty juices, so you will have about double the liquid than you started with.

8.  Put the strainer over another bowl or a plate to catch any drips.

9.  Put the funnel in the neck of the vodka bottle and carefully pour the lovely red liquid back into the bottles.  It might help to have someone hold the bottle & funnel while you pour.

10. Drape the cheesecloth over the bowl you just emptied. Put about 1/3 of the berries in the middle of the cloth. 

11.  This is the messy part.  Gather the ends of the cheesecloth together and squeeze out as much juice as you can, taking care not to let any pulp leak out.  If some pulp escapes, you can always strain it through the cheesecloth again, but it’s less work if you can keep it out in the first place. 

12.  Once you’ve squeezed out as much juice as you’re willing to squeeze, throw away the berry pulp and repeat step 11 with the remaining berries.

13.  Pour the berry-squeezin’s into a separate bottle or jar, seal, and refrigerate.  It's tasty over ice, or you can use it the same way you'd use the finished vodka.  Next time I make a batch I will try this over ice cream, or maybe soaked into a pound cake.

14.  Make yourself a drink.  Fill a glass with ice, then add 1 part strawberry vodka to 3 parts lemonade.  I like Simply Lemonade for this. 

15.  Call your friends and tell them to come over and try this ridiculously tasty concoction.  Tell them to bring more berries & vodka so you can start another batch, since this one will be gone before you know it.

16.  If your friends drove over, make sure they don’t get saucy and drive home.  Trust me, it’s easy to overindulge in this stuff.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds amazing! Found you via the Workman Unbound email from Craig Popelars and am now a new follower. Can't wait to try this out!

    ReplyDelete