Kegconnection Complete Starter Kit and More Giveaway!


Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Community > General Chit Chat > Any advice on homemade liqueur making?

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 05-26-2010, 04:05 PM   #1
Spasticteapot
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 21
Default Any advice on homemade liqueur making?

I'm trying to make some homemade liqueurs, and was wondering if I could improve somewhat on the rather crude traditional methods. I'm doing this by the lazy-and-legal method: in short, buying commercial alcohol and flavoring it with various fruits spices, and whatnot. However, simply dumping a bunch of fruit in some vodka, waiting a few weeks, then discarding the fruit does not seem to be an efficient use of time and resources.

So far, all I've made is a homemade aquavit, which, aside from being a sort of amber yellow, was pretty spectacular. If you have any good recipes, feel free to share them.

Anywho, I have the following questions:

1. Purification of base alcohol. Cheap liquor - say, Popov - greatly decreases the cost of the end result, but can give it a funny flavor. (I've never actually tried using anything other than half-decent booze - I'm new to this, and don't feel like waiting three weeks only to find out I've made something that tastes like shoe polish because I was too cheap to buy decent ingredients.)

I've constructed a rather basic filter out of a piece of pipe capped with mesh and filled with food-grade activated charcoal. Short of fractional distillation, can anyone else suggest techniques to allow the use of cheap base alcohols?

2. Pureeing of fruit ingredients. My first two attempts at fruit liqueurs - dried cherries in vodka and fresh mango in rum, both several weeks away from being ready to drink - I made by placing the fruit and alcohol ingredients in a blender and turning them into a slurry. While this may potentially increase the difficulty of extracting liquid from solids, I feel that the increase in surface area will allow for greater flavor in less infusion time and potentially allow for a more efficient extraction of liquid.

The main problem with pureeing is the removal of pulp from the finished product. I'm hoping to run the liquid through a series of filters - first a coarse mesh, then cheesecloth, then a coffee filter - to remove insoluble substances, then use some sort of press to extract the juice. I'm a student and don't have any space for a traditional cider press, and was hoping someone could suggest an alternative.

3. Infusion conditions. I've read conflicting information on the optimum conditions for infusions; some sources claim that heat and light are good, while others claim that a cool, dark place is optimum. One thing that all sources have in common is the necessity of agitation; to supply this requirement, I've made some magnetic stirrers out of old computer parts. (Hopefully they won't catch on fire.

4. Infusion time. This is a bit of a doozy - fruit apparently varies all over the place in recommended infusion time, and spices can infuse in anywhere from a week to a month. Furthermore, leaving fruit in the liqueur for too long is supposed to make it quite bitter - I'm not sure why.

By pureeing the fruit, I'm hopefully eliminating the problem of the interior of a fruit being exposed to alcohol far less than the interior, requiring the fruit to be removed before all flavor is extracted - I'm not sure how well this will work, and won't find out for a few weeks. If anyone could help me figure out a chart of recommended minimum and maximum infusion times for different substances, that would be dandy.

5. Alcohol content. From what I understand, the primary benefit of using alcohol for flavor extraction of the solubility of the many essential oils and organic compounds that give flavor and aren't commonly found in juices. By infusing into a small quantity of high-proof alcohol and and diluting, the efficiency of flavor absorbtion, especially from things like coffee or citrus zest where all the flavor is from water-insoluble oils, should hopefully be improved over infusing into a lower-proof alcohol solution. However, this does allow for the possibility of oversaturation of the solution, slowing the diffusion of further flavor.

So...should I infuse coffee into everclear, or am I better off with standard vodka?

Thanks for the help.

__________________
Spasticteapot is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 05-26-2010, 07:54 PM   #2
CrankyOldLibrarian
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Jamaica Plain
Posts: 215
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default

Some say that using 40% alc is fine. Others say that you need at least 50% alc to get full extraction from the fruits. I usually stick with diluting Everclear to 50%. However, since you are doing coffee, I might say 40%.

The only coffee based liqueur I've made is a 44:

Liqueur 44

* 1 orange
* 44 coffee beans
* 44 sugar cubes
* 1 litre 40% alcohol

Make 44 cuts in the orange and insert the 44 coffee beans. Place in a jar with 44 sugar cubes and cover with the alcohol. Drink after 44 days.
____

It came out great, and the taste of the coffee was slight.

However, the best way to find out would be to scale down your recipe and try it with both a 40% and a higher proof, and see which gives the flavor you want.

Good luck!

__________________
CrankyOldLibrarian is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 05-26-2010, 09:56 PM   #3
malkore
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
malkore's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Nebraska
Posts: 6,922
Liked 32 Times on 30 Posts
Likes Given: 9

Default

I"ve seen some tests done using charcoal filters and cheap vodka to produce a vodka that was as good as the top-top shelf spirits out there, so I do think you're on the right track...
however they also found the amount of filtering (4-5 times through charcoal) practically ate up the savings of the cheaper alcohol.

__________________
Malkore
Primary: English Mild
On tap: Pale Ale, Lancelot's Wheat, English Brown Ale, Steam Beer, HoovNuts IPA
Bottled: MOAM, Braggot, Raspberry Melomel, Merlot, Apfelwein, Pyment, Sweet mead, Cabernet
Gal in 2009: 27, Gal in 2010: 34, Gal in 2011: 13, Gal in 2012: 10
malkore is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 05-26-2010, 10:00 PM   #4
Spasticteapot
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 21
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by malkore View Post
I"ve seen some tests done using charcoal filters and cheap vodka to produce a vodka that was as good as the top-top shelf spirits out there, so I do think you're on the right track...
however they also found the amount of filtering (4-5 times through charcoal) practically ate up the savings of the cheaper alcohol.
That's because they were using Brita filters. Activated charcoal is about $1.50 a charge, and I suspect I'll get more than one bottle through it.
__________________
Spasticteapot is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 05-27-2010, 02:42 AM   #5
FreeM80s
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Southern Appalachia
Posts: 437
Liked 4 Times on 4 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default

a buddy of mine a brew with makes this:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limoncello
i think its pretty simple too. if i remember correctly, its just PGA, lemon zest and sugar.

__________________
FreeM80s is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 05-27-2010, 03:34 AM   #6
Spasticteapot
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 21
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeM80s View Post
a buddy of mine a brew with makes this:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limoncello
i think its pretty simple too. if i remember correctly, its just PGA, lemon zest and sugar.
Pin Grid Array?
__________________
Spasticteapot is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 05-27-2010, 04:18 AM   #7
Mermaid
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Watertown, MA
Posts: 668
Liked 9 Times on 9 Posts
Likes Given: 8

Default

Limoncello is immensly easy, and you can experiment with different types of citrus, as long as you give it the time it needs to really develop the flavors. I did about 2 lbs. of regular lemons, a couple of bitter oranges, and about 4 meyer lemons.
Tossed the citrus into a boiling water bath for about a minute just to make sure any waxy coating and/or unwanted funk was removed from the skin
Grated the zest on a box grater, careful to avoid the white pith inside
Tossed the zest into a sanitized glass storage jar with a hinge type lid (like a Grolsch bottle) - bottle I picked up at a local bargian store
Covered with Big Bottle of Vodka - used a mid-grade Polish vodka (not the cheapest stuff, but also not Stoli)
Set in dark cabinet for 4 weeks.
Once it got to the right color, I had to tweak the amount of simple syrup to add so that it wasn't cloyingly sweet, but was something beyond citrus vodka.
I think what I came up with was a 1/3 symple syrup to 2/3 citrus vodka - but YMMV

I suppose you could also do the same process to make a key lime "limoncello" that would make lovely summer cocktails, or a similar type of infusion with fresh ginger.

I just followed the same basic principal I learned from reading all the homebrewing guidelines. Cleanliness, patience, and experimentation.

__________________
Mermaid is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 05-27-2010, 04:36 AM   #8
Spasticteapot
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 21
Default

Out of curiosity, where did you obtain the bitter orange? I love that flavor.

Also, is there a reason you need to sanitize the jar? Vodka is a pretty efficient disinfectant, and everclear - which, I'm told by a chef, allows for much faster dispersal of the essential lemon oils - is good enough for medical use.

I'll probably end up diluting the end result a fair bit; I like my alcohol pretty weak and not terribly sweet. On the other hand, grapefruit peels aren't too expensive, and you get to eat the grapefruit.

__________________
Spasticteapot is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 05-27-2010, 07:36 AM   #9
FreeM80s
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Southern Appalachia
Posts: 437
Liked 4 Times on 4 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spasticteapot View Post
Pin Grid Array?
"pure grain alcohol" aka everclear. or crystal springs. or whatever your local rotgut provider calls it. the lemon stuff is ok I guess. but im not a fan of liquor really. i'll sip a neat whiskey/burbon/rum/scotch, but thats about it. well, besides beer of course
__________________

Last edited by FreeM80s; 05-27-2010 at 03:48 PM.
FreeM80s is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 05-27-2010, 03:23 PM   #10
CrankyOldLibrarian
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Jamaica Plain
Posts: 215
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default

Of all the liqueurs I've made so far, this Blackberry one is my favorite: http://www.guntheranderson.com/liqueurs/blackbe3.htm

It says to age it for a month, but it gets much better after a few months.

__________________
CrankyOldLibrarian is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply


Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Making homemade specialty malts, Caramels, Chocolates, Toasted, etc. MVKTR2 General Beer Discussion 20 01-03-2014 07:02 PM
new to homemade soda making yummybeer Soda Making 6 04-17-2011 11:59 AM
Homemade RootBeer Advice Please Dark_Kiromaru Soda Making 6 05-25-2009 09:57 PM
Long week -- so, homemade beer with homemade pizza AZ_IPA Cooking & Pairing 12 03-07-2009 01:37 AM
Making a mash tun, need some advice... Professor Frink All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 12 03-30-2007 06:11 PM