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.