EQUIPMENT: Making liqueurs at home does not require anything really 'special' in the way of equipment. You will need some, but not all of the following:
AGING CONTAINERS: Glass jars with lids (wide mouth, 1 qt or larger are best) Ceramic crock with lid Ceramic bowls/glass bottles and/or decanters with either screw on lids/caps or cork/glass cap STRAINERS: Metal colander fine wire mesh strainer cloth jelly bag white cotton or linen cloth cheesecloth paper coffee filters MISCELLANEOUS: Wooden spoon Glass or metal measuring cups metal measuring spoons metal funnel
PREPARATION OF EQUIPMENT: The aging containers should be properly cleaned before use. First, wash them thoroughly with a mixture of baking soda and water. The container should be sterilized by either boiling them in water for 15 minutes or putting them through a full dishwasher cycle without any detergent.
TYPES OF EQUIPMENT: Kitchen utensils used for liqueur making, such as measuring cups, funnels etc. should not be made of plastic. (Plastic can impart an off flavour to liqueurs.) Metal, ceramic or glass are preferred.
Straining is one of the most important steps in obtaining a clear, quality liqueur. A large holed metal colander will strain large pieces but you will need finer straining material for smaller pieces and for your last fine straining. If cheesecloth is used, you will need several thicknesses, which can be discarded after use.
The most efficient fine straining is done with either a cloth jelly-bag or with a clean cotton or linen cloth laid inside a strainer. These clothes may be washed and re-used. Some prefer to use disposable paper coffee filters for this step, however, they are too dense for some of the thicker liqueurs. We recommend that you test a small amount first if you wish to use this method. Try various strainers to see which you prefer.
Bottles and Decanters:
You will need an assortment of clean bottles or decanters to hold the finished product. For home storage, wine bottles with metal screw on tops are frequently the most practical container.
For gift giving, small unusual glass bottles with metal screw on top, such as condiment, vinegar and small wine bottles, are excellent. Many interesting bottles also can be found in kitchen, glass, gourmet, herb and wine making shops.
Glass decanters are elegant containers in which to serve or give your special liqueurs. Good places to find inexpensive decanters are garage or rummage sales and second hand shops.
Decanters frequently have glass tops with a cork insert. This is fine as long as the cork is clean.
Containers which have held something other than food or beverage can be difficult to clean and may tranfer an offensive or dangerous taste to your liqueur. Therefore, their use is not recommended.
Plastic containers should not be used when making or storing liqueurs. It is also best to avoid all plastic or plastic lined caps.
The reason for this is that the flavour from the plastic can be transferred to the liqueur. The occasional exception is when plastic wrap is laid across a ceramic bowl in the early stages or to shield an uncoated metal lid from corroding. For example, canning jar lids are usually coated inside; mayonnaise jar lids are not. Plastic wrap may be used if it does not touch the liqueur.
Cork may be used if you wish, but remember that corks allow evaporation. You may wish to seal the cork with wax or foil to avoid this.
When making any recipe, remember that it is the quality of the ingredients used that determines the final result. There are three main types of ingredients to consider in liqueur making. They are alcohol, flavorings and water.
Alcohol: There are a number of types of alcohol bases used in liqueur making. The two most frequently used are 180 to 190 proof pure grain alcohol and 80 to 100 proof vodka. Both are easily obtained at a liquor store (U.S.).
Pure grain alcohol is a neutral sprit which will be diluted half and half with water. It has no taste of its own to interfere with the liqueur flavorings. When purchasing a pure grain alcohol, you do not have to be concerned with which brand to buy; all are equal.
Vodka, like pure grain alcohol, is a neutral spirit usually made from distilled grains and is an ideal base in liqueur making. However, there are differences from brand to brand. The purifying and refining processes of the distiller determines the end quality. Good vodka should be colorless, aromaless and have no real taste of its own. Take time to find the smoothest vodka in your price range.
Either 80 or 100 proof vodka is acceptable.
Submitted By HELEN PEAGRAM On 04-12-95