UPDATE: Tried again with Brandy - way better! See bottom of post.
Koval Distillery here in Chicago makes an organic Ginger Liqueur that I've come to call "crack". It is delicious and once I open a bottle, it's hard to put it down. I like it either on the rocks or with a splash of club soda.
Last weekend, we started a few batches of Limoncello and Pompelmocello (grapefruit flavored) and it made me wonder... what else could I make this way. My mind went immediately to my "crack" so I began researching ginger liqueur recipes, all of which required 2 weeks to infuse. But you see, I'm out of "crack". And I don't want to wait 2 weeks for more. Then I remembered reading about doing infusions en sous vide. And how it can cut down infusion times from 2 weeks to 2 hours. Meaning with cooling and prep time, I could probably be enjoying some homemade ginger liqueur in just 3 hours.
You can't vacuum seal liquids in a traditional foodsaver type vacuum sealer. You can only do that in the commercial $1000+ chamber sealers. So in order to seal the liquids you need food-grade plastic bags (that are safe when heated) like these from Sous Vide Supreme, and then you can use the Archimedes principle to displace the air. But I didn't have any. What I did have was one of these Lekue 1 Liter Fresh Bags. They are reusable and dishwasher safe but I'll be honest, they are pretty tricky to seal while getting the extra air out.
Anyway, here's how you make ginger liqueur in under 3 hours!
- 3.5 oz fresh ginger
- 375 ml vodka
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
Pre-heat the Sous Vide Supreme to 135 degrees F.
Peel and grate the ginger
add it to the bag
Top it off with the vodka.
Remove all air from the bag and add it to the Sous Vide Supreme. I used the rack to weight it down just to make sure it wouldn't float.
Set the timer for 2 hours. When the time is almost up, make the simple syrup by adding 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a saucepan. (I like to use this kettle because it has a spout for easy pouring)
Bring to a simmer, stirring until all sugar is dissolved. About 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
When the timer goes off (or anytime after, nothing bad will happen if you leave it in for longer), take out the infused vodka.
Prepare a bottle and line a funnel with a coffee filter (or double layer of cheese cloth)
Filter the mixture into the bottle
And then add the simple syrup to taste. If you like it sweet, add all of the syrup, I personally used a little less. It won't really taste right until it's chilled though so I would add about 75% of the syrup, throw it in the fridge, when it's chilled taste it, then decide if you want to add the rest.
Your liqueur is done. Again, I prefer to drink it over ice or with a splash of club soda.
Things to try:
- Use higher proof liquor to make it more shelf stable. I'll be keeping this one in the fridge since it's probably only about 40 proof. Will probably require the addition of more syrup or water.
- Use more ginger. This one has a really nice bite on the end but I can never get enough ginger so I think next time I'm going to try to add even more.
- Don't have a sous vide machine? Throw the vodka/ginger in a jar and let steep for 2 weeks instead. Then filter and add the syrup.
Ok, I tried again since this was so easy. This time I used Brandy instead of Vodka, 4.5 oz of ginger instead of 3.5oz, and a little less simple syrup. I like it soooo much better! So my new recommended recipe is this:
Follow the procedure outlined above, adding the simple syrup to taste. Like I said, I LOVE the bite of fresh ginger so this may be a little heavy handed for some, but for me - Oh Em Gee (I don't get that, why did we decide to elongate OMG? I'm assuming it's to stress our emotional reaction so I'm leaving it 'cause I'm excited) Yup, making this with brandy is something I believe I will be doing on a fairly regular (weekly?) basis!
Here is a (really crappy cell phone) side by side photo of the vodka based vs. the brandy based:
The brandy-based is a lot darker, but man, I LOVE the flavor so much more! Make it with Brandy! Heck, make it with vodka too, do your own comparison... brew a half batch of each and decide for yourself.