On creating liqueurs and spirits ...
I've moved to Alaska for the summer, and want to make a spirit / diffusion or a liqueur from the dozens of edible plants in the area. Yarrow, Labrador Tea, Fireweed, Tundra Rose, Arctic Rose, Blueberry, Cranberry, Crowberry and many more aromatic plants exist here, and I'd like to make a diffusion that combines them. I've bought Everclear, which is 190 proof and have a couple of jars ready. Just thought I'd see what advice, expertise and ideas you might have!
I would make very small batches first using 8 oz canning jars. Dried botanicals for things like Yarrow Labrador tea, etc. work better than fresh. To make a concentrated tincture, try about 1/2 oz dried botanical to 6 oz 190 proof neutral spirit and let infuse for several days, tasting each day. Some botanicals only need hours, some days, some weeks, and the flavor profiles can and usually does change during this time. Do each one separately so you get to know their flavor profile once infused.
For fresh ingredients, you have to make sure you fill the container completely to the top with the neutral spirit, so there is no air, or else you will get oxidized, off tasting flavors and brown and muddy color.
Get food grade citric acid and use a small amount, 1-2 grams per liter, in the final liqueur to help preserve it and add a tiny bit of pleasant tartness to balance the sugar in the liqueur.
Get a GOOD digital scale, they aren't expensive, I use the Jennings CJ-600 scale in my home lab, the accuracy is good enough I use it in measuring ingredients for my commercial batches of bitters. It has a 600 gm capacity and is accurate to 0.1 gm. and is $45 here
Also some of those 2 oz and 4 cup angled, Oxo clear measuring cups. Accuracy and detailed notes help make higher quality products.
Thanks for all of the info, JMF.
Since I'm going to be mixing these infusions (or diffusions? what is the difference?), I think your idea of using smaller batches will work well. Since I'm living relatively far from any big TOWN or city, I have limited days to go shopping. Luckily, today is a day that I'm headed to Fairbanks, so I'll pick up a scale, if I can find some, citric acid, and it looks like I should go ahead and get another bottle of everclear for good measure.
I'll definitely post some results as they happen!
Infusion is the word. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infusion
When you infuse with alcohol (or vinegar),the filtered result is a tincture. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tincture
Many scales you find in stores are not accurate enough, that's why I recommended the one I did that is accurate down to 0.1 gm, but also has a 600 gm (a little over a pound) capacity. I have two scales that I use at home, the one I mentioned, and one that isn't as accurate, only down to 1 gm, but has a 5 kilo/11lb, capacity.
if you do a search on this board you will find some very lengthy and informative threads about infusing and liqueurs. Here are a few samples.