Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Coconut status (again), and a few remakes

Monday night, on the one month anniversary (!) of the coconut vodka experiment, we sampled the vodka yet again. We also completed three other infusions of previous flavors (apple, orange, and strawberry), to replenish our supply.


We were nearly ready to give up on the coconut infusion; when we first tasted it two weeks ago, there was hardly any coconut taste, and we did not expect it to be much better this time. We were pleasantly surprised.

"It smells more like coconut now," Wayland said. "It still has a strong vodka flavor, but it does taste like coconut."

I tasted it next, without fully preparing myself for how vodka-y it still is.

The vodka still kicks at full strength. The coconut vodka is still not as strong as I would like, but it's definitely stronger than it was two weeks ago. It seems that the sugar we added after the first sampling had a significant effect.

I am hoping that another week will make it more strongly flavored, though Wayland believes it has reached its limit. We're giving it until next week, just to be safe, but after that we're calling it done whether it's changed or not.

The best thing about making a new flavor of vodka each week is that we always have a well-stocked bar. Though we don't drink it nearly as fast as we make it, we have gone through a good few bottles of vodka since launching in December. We've been restocking most of our infusions as we run out, but haven't mentioned this much in the blog (with the exception of the horrendous Strawberry Mark II). We've decided to start logging these remakes here, though none will get full write-ups unless we make major changes to the process.

Batch three of the strawberry vodka is a return to form. We created it the same way we made the highly successful first batch, except that we let this one run longer: nine days, instead of the original four. (This should not in any way indicate that we forgot about it. No sirree.) As a result, this batch is tarter and more pronounced in flavor than the first batch. We think it will be even better in drinks because of the stronger flavor.

The apple vodka, though we have not quite finished off the first batch, is one we have been wanting to repeat for quite some time. The first batch has been met with a mixed reception; Wayland enjoys it, as did The Ferrett and his entourage, though I have never liked it -- to me, it tastes like apples that have been sliced and then left out too long. I have long felt that the problem was flawed methodology; being one of our first infusions, we did it in a non-airtight jar, and without refrigeration. With these potential flaws corrected, we decided to make a second attempt. We also neglected to use sugar in this infusion, unlike the first.

Wayland said that this batch has a stronger vodka taste than the original. He believes that the lack of sugar made a difference for the negative. I decided that this batch is better than the first; it doesn't have the "off" taste, though it does have a slight bitterness that could have grown into that effect. I agree that sugar would have probably improved this infusion. That said, the bitterness will probably be diluted in a mixed drink, and I look forward to trying it.

Finally, we bottled and sampled our second batch of orange vodka. We altered our original procedure by zesting the orange with a cheese grater, as we learned to do during our lime vodka experiment. The zesting process doesn't seem to have had much of an effect on the flavor; it's very good, but basically the same as the first batch. Of course, we could only confirm this if some of the original batch was left to do a side-by-side taste test. We may arrange such a test in the future, to determine whether to continue zesting our citrus infusions or not.


Morgana said...

Just speaking from a culinary viewpoint, coconut has a weak flavor until it is toasted.

Did you toast it before using it?

Sarah said...

I sweeten some of mine into liquers using simple syrup made from equal parts white sugar and water. I also made a honey vodka that blends nicely with some other infusions.

Unknown said...

Have you considered the benefits of running your coconut/chocolate/other hard foods
through a food processor before infusing the vodka with it? much much higher surface area that way. May be especially useful with the coconut. Also, You might find the coconut to be more difficult to extract (without toasting as someone else said above) because of the high amount of oils in the food. normally, if there is little or no fat in the food, it is easier to infuse into alcohol because it has less work to do to get into the essences of the food. Make sense? so toasting it will cook off some of those oils, and as a nice flavor to it.

Scottes said...

As I'm trying some rum infusions myself, I find your info invaluable. Thanks guys!

One rum infusion that I am trying right now is apple. I'm concerned about your comments about the apple tasting like "apples that were left out too long." After 48 hours the apples in my infusion started looking brown, even though I'm using airtight canning jars. So I'm thinking that the apple needs to be "refreshed" - that is, replaced every 2 days with fresh apples. Thin slices, rather than wedges, should also pull more flavor before they go brown.

From baking apples pies years ago I remember that sugar can have quite an effect on sliced apples. Try lightly dusting some apple sliced with superfine sugar (not confectioner's!) and wait 30 minutes before putting them into the vodka. This seems to pull out a lot of juices. The sugar should help the vodka too.

Another thought, concerning bitterness, are the peels. I peeled my apples, with the belief that the peels are more bitter that the apple "meat" and I didn't want the bitterness.

This is all theory at this point, but approaches I'll be taking with my rum infusion.

Brendan said...

Peeling the apples and periodically replacing them are both great ideas. We'll give them a try next time we restock our apple vodka.

Anonymous said...

what if you shredded the coconut or made the pieces even smaller, i wonder if that could bring out the taste more......maybe emtying a coconut of its milk and REPLACING it with vodka.