Oh the Possibilities!
It all started with one bottle of Vanilla.
Back in the late 90’s Amish Bread was all the rage where I live. Containers of starter sitting on the counter needing to be “burped” daily, until day 7 when you add all the other ingredients and make a cinnamon sugar crusted sweet loaf of Amish Bread. One year my sister-in-law wanted to “keep things simple” and make homemade gifts for all the family. She had over 30 butter/sour cream/cottage cheese/ containers sitting on the counter and had to “burp” her babies like a mom. Then after the holidays she had double the trouble finding homes for the leftover starters because she couldn’t possibly throw the leftover babies all away.
Fast forward to 2015
One bottle of vanilla
I just wanted to see if it vanilla could be that much better if it was homemade.
What I have:
– Two measly vanilla beans needing something to do.
– A bottle of Vodka
….sitting in the cupboard, my husband uses to dissolve something… for his workout, I can’t remember exactly, but there it sits.
Lastly, an impulse purchase of a small hinged, rubber stoppered bottle at Home Goods, cause for $1.99 I could use it to store salad dressing or something.
There we have it, the beginning of a new and dangerous hobby.
If I remember right, this started in February. April rolled around and after smelling and tasting that little bottle of vanilla, I needed MORE. Ooooo! Christmas gifts… what could be better than homemade vanilla. Hostess gifts, so much better than a bunch of flowers that will be wilted in 2 or 3 days…
All kinds of ideas forming in my head.
Then I bought better vanilla beans in larger amounts after I did a little research. I found more bottles, and more bottles. I used up that first bottle of Vodka, and a second one as well. Now like my sister-in-law years ago, I am busy with my little babies, pulling them out and giving them a good jiggle and swirl every couple of days.
I am the proud mamma of 10 bottles of adolescent vanilla maturing in the pantry.
There’s a few of my new babies, I used up the first batch of beans in April, and they are filling another cupboard. These are my June babies.
But, that’s not all,
we all know hobbies grow.
The leftover 1/2 bottle of Brandy we bought on clearance a few years ago needed to find a use since I need more space for my Vanilla babies. With an abundance of Apricots this year, how could I refuse another experiment. I have a vague and foggy memory of my Dad enjoying Apricot Brandy when I was a little child. How hard could it be to make a small batch, “Just For Fun”? To my surprise, not hard. While doing recipe research I came across, Cherry Cordial, Blackberry Cordial, and Blueberry Cordial. All of those are in season and at their prime right now!
Yup, I threw myself in, all in!
Small, batches, just testers this year.
At least, that is what I am telling myself.
Basic Recipe: Small Jars (6-12 ounces)
1 C. Fresh washed Berries or Cherries
Vodka or Ever Clear (grain alcohol)
Vanilla Bean (optional)
1/4 to 1/3 C. Sugar (added in 21 – 30 days)
Basic Recipe: Large Jar (2 Qt – 1 Gal.)
3 C. Fresh washed Berries or Cherries
3 C. Vodka or grain alcohol
Vanilla Bean (optional)
2 C. Sugar (added in 21-30 days)
Sterilize any jars and lids that you are using. Fill small jars 2/3 to 3/4 full with the fruit and add alcohol, filling only to the neck of the jar. Cover tightly, label and date. Store in a dark cool cupboard. Shake every 3 or 4 days, more often or whenever you desire. After 14 days open the jars and check the flavor of the alcohol and the fruit to see how they are doing.
– At 14 days the alcohol should have plenty of color, the fruit should be pale, but the flavor will be faint.
Dry the lids and rims of the jars with a paper towel, before you cover them tightly again and store for 1 to 2 more weeks.
At 21 to 30 days, sterilize new jars for the cordials or strain fruit and put back in the same jars. Add the sugar and shake to dissolve. All of it may not dissolve the first few days, so keep on shaking until it does. Refrigerate or store in a dark cool place.
Finished Infusions below!
The Brandied Apricots still look the same and since they are a larger fruit I plan on letting them stay in the jar for a few more months before using. I will update you with Apricot pictures when I check on another infusion that is in the process of aging.
Limoncello is stuffed in the back of my cupboard for a 40 day rest.