A couple of weeks ago, while strolling through the local grocery store a few blocks away, we 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 we don’t see very often. After a closer look we saw that they were red currants. Of course, we knew what these were—we have an antique botany lithograph hanging in the kitchen of this fruit. But how often do you see them fresh in the grocery store? Then the idea hit: We need to infuse vodka with these little babies!
Pint in hand, we headed for the register. we figured if our version came anywhere near Absolut Kurant, we’d be happy. The first thing to do was to wash and de-stem the berries. At first, it looked like there would be only a few stems, but as we got going, it appeared 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.
After we had the stems removed and had picked over the bunch to eliminate a few bad, shriveled berries, we 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. Running water over them right through the container worked, but being that the box was small, we decided to transfer them into a ceramic bowl to give them more room to move around to remove 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.
Once completely rinsed and reasonably dried, we poured them all into an empty bottle. We could have pureed them, but the berries have a seed, and we didn’t know if exposing and possibly breaking the seeds would make for better or worse flavor. So, we opted to leave them whole. Now for the hard part: fill 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 we checked on it and noticed that the fruit was changing into a pale pink color while the vodka had become a beautiful magenta. we gave it a good shake and let it go a few more days. After a taste to confirm, we declared it done.
All that was left to complete the project was remove the fruit and filter the finished product. We like to filter once or twice through paper towels, as this tends to remove the sediment and any larger particles. You can then 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 we skipped the paper towels, the coffee filter would become clogged very quickly and this step could take hours!
Once filtered, we transferred the 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:
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?)
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 we 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.
wondering if this would work well with pomegranite”
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!
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.
A jelly bag is a great idea. I don’t do a lot of infusions, but this seems like a great way to go.
I’m making currant vodka now (berries in vodka). I crushed my currants before adding vodka. After 3 weeks, I’ve noticed there is a hazy crud floating on top. Is it safe?
It is hard to say what the hazy stuff is, but I would be surprised if anything nasty could live on the surface of vodka. It is probably some part of the fruit broken down that does not dissolve. I would filter through a coffee filter to remove it.
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… Read more »
Red currant-infused vodka sounds wonderful – but just a note here that that’s not what is used for Absolut Kurant. That is made with black currants, a very different flavor. Happens to be my favorite, but the berries are very hard to find in the US (it’s an acquired taste).
Kaja, that is a fair point. What’s more is the fact that most of the time we see black currants they are dried, more or less, like a raisin which intensifies the flavor.
I make mine from black currant
Black currant would be good. I would be inclined to make creme de cassis!