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Make Red Currant Infused Vodka

currant1A couple of weeks ago, while strolling through the local grocery store a few blocks away, I decided to take a quick look at the fresh berries. Nestled between some raspberries and blueberries was thin row of little clear plastic boxes of a fruit I don't see very often. I took a closer look and saw that they were red currants. Of course, I knew what these were—I have an antique botany lithograph hanging in my kitchen of this fruit. But how often do you see them fresh in the grocery store? Then it hit me: I need to infuse vodka with these little babies!

I shoved a pint under my arm and headed for the register. I figured if my version came anywhere near Absolut Kurant, I'd be happy. The first thing I needed to do was to wash and de-stem the berries. At first, it looked like there would be only a few stems, but as I got going, I realized that every berry was still attached. If you don't know currants, they look like a double row of tiny grapes on a thin green vine. It's easy enough to pluck them off, but this part took a little care so as not to completely rip them apart.

currant3After I had the stems removed and I had picked over the bunch to eliminate a few bad, shriveled berries, I needed to wash them. One technique that works reasonably well is to simply put them back into the plastic container they came in. This lidded box has ventilation slits all the way around, so it makes for a good colander. I ran water over them right through the container, but being that the box was small, I decided to transfer them into a ceramic bowl to give them more room to move around while I removed any dirt or scum.
This was just as well, because currants do not float. You can run water into the bowl and as they agitate, submerged, the excess water can be poured off easily.

currant5

Once completely rinsed and reasonably dried, I poured them all into an empty bottle. I suppose I could have pureed them, but the berries have a seed, and I didn't know if exposing and possibly breaking the seeds would make for better or worse flavor. So, I opted to leave them whole. Now for the hard part: I filled it up with vodka. Whew! Glad that part's over! This isn't rocket science, folks. Infusing vodka with fruit is about as easy as, well, putting the fruit in a bottle and adding vodka.

 

The idea with any infusion is that the ethanol acts like a solvent, extracting essential oils and flavor compounds that might otherwise stay in the fruit. The higher the alcohol content in your solution, the more extraction takes place and the faster it progresses. After two days I checked on it and noticed that the fruit was changing into a pale pink color while the vodka had become a beautiful magenta. I gave it a good shake and let it go a few more days. After a taste to confirm, I declared it done.

All that was left to complete the project was remove the fruit and filter the finished product. I like to filter once or twice through paper towels, as this tends to remove the sediment and any larger particles. Then, I run it through a coffee filter. The coffee filter paper is very fine, so it takes a couple of minutes to complete this step. However, had I skipped the paper towels, the coffee filter would become clogged very quickly and this step could take hours!

Once filtered, I transferred my Homemade Currant Vodka into an antique pump-style decanter. Currant vodka is a little tart. It goes great with cranberry juice, but you could try it in just about anything:

currant8Cranberry Currant
Pour some Homemade Currant Vodka over ice in a tall glass. Fill with cranberry juice.

Currant Cosmo (if you must)
2 oz Homemade Currant Vodka
1 oz Cointreau (or triple sec)
1/2 oz lime juice, freshly squeezed
splash of cranberry juice (is this even necessary?)

French Flamingo
1.5 oz Homemade Currant Vodka
1 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz lime juice, freshly squeezed
3/4 oz pomegranate juice

Actually, there are just so many ways to use this—you need to experiment a little. Even the Cosmo recipe is totally up to you. That's how I like it, but you can add less lime, more cranberry—it's your drink—you decide! And here's an idea: Head over to Absolut.com and borrow a few of their Kurant recipes. There's no shame in that.

 

6 comments to Make Red Currant Infused Vodka

  • Rachelle

    wondering if this would work well with pomegranite"

  • Randy

    You could absolutely do pomegranate. Last year, I made a pomegranate liqueur that was the talk of the party. It was basically an infusion like this one with simple syrup added. Actually, I used higher proof grain alcohol so the resulting liquor wasn't over-diluted when I cut in the syrup. Anyway, pomegranate works great!

  • Drew

    I use a jelly bag to filter, no need to do it more than once, super quick. I use my own currants, I grow a few plants, and get a couple gallons a year. Easy to grow.
    I also grow Magnolia vine berries, and these make a fantastic infusion. One of the 50 fundamental Chinese herbs, the five flavor berry.

  • chris

    I extracted the juice from the red currants and put in jar in frig is there any way to make a vodka currant cordial from it? PLease le tme know. Thanls

    • Chris, you are asking for two things—a cordial or a flavored vodka. Cordials are sweet. Infused vodka is not. If you want a cordial, or a liqueur, you could try by sweetening the juice with sugar, then adding alcohol to taste. But making a vodka is usually a process of infusing the spirit with the berries, not combining it with juice. If you just mix the juice with vodka it will reduce the alcohol by volume (because you are adding water in the form of juice).

      I think you are better off starting with a currant-based syrup since you already have the juice extracted (combine equal volume of sugar and juice). Stop there and you might have a fantastic cocktail ingredient. Then, you could add vodka or everclear to taste to make something like a liqueur. Normally, liqueurs are made by way of infusing the spirit first, allowing the alcohol to dissolve the flavor elements, then adding sugar and water. It might amount to the same result though!

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