23 July 2012
More schnapps: cherry, green walnut, strawberry
Sour cherries are hard to find in California, but sweet bings and rainiers have been all over the farmer's market. So I went ahead and grabbed several pounds to bring home for more schnapps-making.
What? Summer isn't just the perfect time for canning--it's the perfect time for immersing fresh, beautiful fruit in alcohol as well. I already made plum schnapps; why not go for several more?
The basic procedure for making schnapps--also known as infused vodka--is as follows. Get your hands on enough top-quality ripe fruit (or herbs, spices, nuts, etc.) to fill 2/3 of your chosen jar. Wash it, cut it up if necessary, put it in the jar, and cover it with vodka. Lid the jar and store it in a dark place, shaking every few days. Steeping time varies. Herbs only need maybe 48 hours of steeping, since they're so potent; fruit can be steeped for anywhere from a week to about six months, depending on your taste. When you're done steeping, filter out your fruit and any sediment. Then put your schnapps back in the cupboard to age to your taste.
For cherry schnapps, I just washed and destemmed a pint or two of dark sweet cherries, pricked them all with a pin, and covered them in vodka. After about a month, I plan to strain out the fruit and filter the resulting schnapps. Voila!
So that's one batch. What's next?
Well, when I was first researching schnapps infusions a couple years ago, I was especially intrigued by walnut schnapps. According to danish-schnapps-recipes.com, this particular schnapps is supposed to be aged at least a year and up to five years before drinking, and to change four colors and release some surface particles of walnut oil over the course of the process. The finished result is supposed to be comparable to cognac. Needless to say, I WANT SOME.
So when I discovered a couple black walnut trees in my neighborhood, I knew I had to experiment.
To make walnut schnapps, acquire and quarter 5 or 6 green, unripe walnuts. Put then in a jar and cover with vodka; put the jar in a dark place. Steep 5 months. Shake occasionally & stir with the lid off once a month to let some oxygen in. The color of the schnapps will change from light green to a dramatic & very dark forest green as it oxidizes. (Mine has just started to do this, and let me tell you, it is seriously weird-looking.) After 5 months, strain & put back in the cupboard to age for a minimum of 7 more months. I can't wait.
Of course, if you want a quicker finished product, there are also strawberries.
Strawberries are one of the most rampant fruits here in CA--you can find them at the farmer's market practically all summer. So last week, when I snagged a half flat for $6 five minutes before the close of market, I knew exactly what to do. I cut up a full pint of the most perfect berries, put them in a quart jar, and covered them with vodka. Then I cut up another half pint, put them in a pint jar, and covered them with tequila. (And then I made a strawberry yogurt cake, and we ate a whole lot of strawberries plain, and we still need to use up about a pint.)
I first heard about strawberry tequila from my friend Veronica, and although I was a little skeptical of a tequila infusion, the aroma of the steeping liquid won me over almost immediately. I only made a pint, because we don't generally have a gigantic handle of tequila in the house, but I'm already regretting it. On the other hand, we do have a cabinetful of different schnappses and infusions marinating already, so I think we'll survive.
Now I just need to have the patience to let everything sit around and get as delicious as possible.