Fruits for Vodkas
Certain fruits have a distinctive flavor and have been favored by hobbyists for making vodkas:
Sour cherries make great infusions and vodkas. At the first bite the fruit seems to be tart and sour, but adding sugar transforms it to a different level. It is a favorite of hobbyists all over the world. Regular cherry may seem to taste better and is easier to find, however, it does not compare to the flavor and aroma of sour cherry. The popularity of sour cherries is due to the following factors:
- The fruit produces a lot of juice.
- The juice has a nice reddish color and is very clear.
- The fruit has its own distinct character.
- Sour cherry mixes exceptionally well with other juices and honey. This permits the creation of many fruit vodkas.
- Crushed sour cherry pits provide a unique flavor to the juice.
Cherries and sour cherries prefer cold climates and most American production is localized in the state of Michigan. In North Europe they grow everywhere.
Making sour cherry vodka with fresh juice:
- Use matured dark sour cherries.
- Crush or press them to release juice. Add enough alcohol to create 18-20% alcohol juice.
1 liter of juice and 250 ml 95% alcohol will produce 19% alcohol juice. 1 liter of juice and 325 ml of 75% alcohol will create 19% alcohol juice. This becomes your raw material for the future. Sour cherry vodka should contain about 40-50% of this juice in order to preserve the sour cherry flavor in the final product.
Making sour cherries vodka by infusion method
- Crush sour cherries, save 20% pits and place all in a jar.
- Sour cherries, 250 g
- 75% alcohol, 500 ml
- Macerate 3-4 weeks. Strain. Sour cherries produce clear juice so you may not need to filter it. Add sugar syrup, flavorings and alcohol and water.
In most cases about 25% pits are saved and added to the infusion. The pits are added whole. This imparts a slight flavor of almond which is favored by most people. Vanilla is often added.
How much sugar you add is up to you, this is your drink. Sour cherries need some sugar and 10% (100 g/l) is the safe path to take. Generally, the more sugar you add the weaker your vodka becomes. It also depends whether you use 19% alcohol juice, 40% infusion or both of them (see calculating recipes).
Raspberries make wonderful sweet vodkas, but a bit of acidity is needed to offset the sweetness. A little of citric acid is usually added. You could add some lemon juice infusion (well filtered) or kiwi infusion a well.
A vodka made from strawberry infusion only may have a slight bitter flavor. This can be corrected by blending strawberry infusion with raspberry or sour cherry infusions.
Plum juice is difficult to clarify, but the infusion made from dried plums (prunes) is clear. Generally, dry fruit and berries make much clearer infusions. It must be mentioned that the highest quality plum vodkas are produced from navy blue "damson plums." However, any type of plum, even the tropical "loquat" that goes by the nickname "Chinese plum" in Florida, will produce an outstanding spirit. The plum infusion that will be used for making vodka should be supplied at 25%, this means 250 g for 1 liter of product. Infusions of 40% alcohol fruit juices 20% or even fresh juices from other plum varieties may be added. Juice from blue berries is often added for coloring.
There are two methods for making fruit vodkas:
- Preparing an infusion of fruit and alcohol. This becomes a material that will be used for final blending of ingredients.
- Making vodka infusion from fruit, alcohol, sugar and spices. A filtered infusion can be considered a vodka.
1. The first approach offers certain advantages:
You may experiment with a new fruit. There are many fruits such as guava, passion fruit, mango, persimmon, papaya, pineapple, kiwi, loquat, kumquat, tamarind, banana, lychee and others that offer new possibilities but we are not sure of the outcome. If you follow a new recipe and or mix for example kiwi with sugar, spices and other juices you will never know how a pure infusion of kiwi and alcohol tastes or even looks like. But if you mix it with 70% alcohol and macerate for 3 weeks you will discover its sweetness, the color and the clarity. And it will be around 35-40% strong. You may like it the way it is, or you may add a few percent sugar, some water and you have just made 40% vodka. Or you may leave it as a raw base material that you will use later on. Keep in mind that infusions made from fruit and alcohol only are easier to filter. Once sugar has been added it tends to clog the filter's pores and the process is much slower. You can test your new ideas by making a very small amount of infusion.
2. There is nothing wrong with the traditional approach of putting all ingredients in a jar, as long as you are sure that's exactly what you want. If the recipe has been proven before, this is an acceptable method. Freshly made vodkas need at least two days to mellow as the alcohol has a tendency to stand out in a freshly mixed spirit.
Locally Grown Fruit
Economics dictate that you should utilize any free fruit that you come across. There is an abundance of citrus trees in tropical states, for example in Florida. There are trees left and right with fruit that nobody cares to pick up. Use lemons, oranges, and grapefruits for making vodkas. Mandarin oranges make very good orange liqueur. Kumquats, which look like golf ball size oranges have a flavor that lies somewhere between lemon and orange and make wonderful vodkas and liqueurs. Save all those skins and make infusions or dry them out for later use. Loquats which go by the name Chinese plum grow in topics everywhere and being a plum make wonderful infusions and liqueurs.