The other day Michał sent me a link to Cooking Issues — a blog by a couple of the French Culinary Institute’s techy gastronauts. They’re the kind of culinary nuts who like to use tube condensers, vacuum machines, liquid nitrogen and math equations to produce delectable morsels for the palette. Well, Nils Norén and Dave Arnold had an article about using nitrous oxide in a whipped cream maker to produce quick and easy vodka infusions — you bet I was interested.
Summertime, lazy, warm afternoons by the pool. You’re sipping your mojito feeling hot and looking cool. You shimmy up to the girl ready to make your move and a big fat piece of mint stuck to your teeth spoils your groove… I love the refreshing taste of mojitos in the summer but I hate the whole muddled lawnmower droppings vibe that, for me, spoils the whole affair.
What? Pharmaceutical hooch? Well, it’s not that strange when you consider that before people started making alcohol infusions for pleasure they made them and drank them as medicine. They always seemed to make the patients feel better as long as they took their medicine in high enough doses. Nalewka Farmaceutów has got to be one of the strangest vodka infusions I’ve made so far.
Here in SoCal, almost like citrus fruits, peaches, plums, and nectarines are so acclimatized they are like natives. You can grow them in your yard or just wait till summer when a never-ending river of numerous local varieties shows up at your local farmer’s market. Starting in late June till the end of August delicious, ripe, local California PPNs are in constant supply. So lets make a peachy keen Nalewka with them!
Surprisingly there are old Polish recipes for Brzoskwiniówka. The fact is that in most parts of Poland the winters are to cold for successful peach orchards but that doesn’t stop people from trying. In a sheltered, southern location with a lot of tender care and winter protection you might be able to get a decent crop from time to time. Because of this difficulty of production peaches were placed on a pedestal as a particularly special fruit — a symbol of nurtured wellbeing.
This Nalewka is in the in the liqueur or cordial style — it’s on the sweet side, meant to be sipped as an after dinner treat. This is what you will need:
|The sugar will pull out the peach juices and dissolve.||Now add the vodka, seal tightly, give it a swirl and place in a sunny location.||Peach infused vodka and vodka infused peaches.|
Take your first pound of fresh, ripe peaches and quarter them and remove the pits. Put them in your Nalewka jar, pour in the sugar and shake it all up gently to coat all the peach quarters. Leave the sugared peaches out at room temperature for about 24 hours. The sugar will pull out the peach juices and dissolve. To help the process along give the jar a gentle stir from time to time. Be carful and don’t be rough. Peaches are a gentle fruit and a sweet peachy mush is not what we are after.
You should end up with peach quarters floating in a nice, sweet peach syrup. Don’t worry if all the sugar didn’t dissolve.
Now add the vodka, seal tightly, give it a swirl and place in a sunny location. Over the next 2 weeks, as the vodka is being infused with peach flavors, give the whole jar a gentle shake and a swirl from time to time.
After their time is up, strain the peaches out of the vodka. You will end up with peach infused vodka and vodka infused peaches. The peach vodka could just be filtered and bottled at this stage but we are going to take it one step further. As for the peaches, well, I just put them in a jar with the ones from my Tutti Frutti Nalewka and added some more sugar for preservation. Not sure, yet, what I will do with all them vodka infused and syrup soaked peaches.
|To intensify the flavors we are going to soak another pound of peaches.||I thought it needed a little acid to brighten it up.|
To intensify the peach flavors in our Brzoskwiniówka we are going to soak another pound of peaches in our already peachy vodka infusion.
So, quarter and pit a pound of fresh, ripe peaches. Put the peach quarters into the Nalewka jar. Put 2 or 3 of the peach pits into the jar. Why the peach pits? I’m not 100% sure but in all the recipes I’ve read, when you make Nalewka from fruit with pits, some of the pits are left in the mix. I’ve tried this infusion with and without the pits. It’s hard to pinpoint the effect but I think the pits add a layer of depth, a little hint of bitterness and sophistication. In the end it’s your concoction so you will have to chose for yourself.
The jar goes back out into the sun for another week or two. Shake it up from time to time to help this next batch of peaches release their flavors.
Once the time is up, don’t keep them in there for too long because you will start infusing unwanted flavors, strain out the vodka infused peaches and give the peach infused vodka a taste. This is where the lime or lemon come into play.
When I tried my Nalewka I found it to be a little on the cloying side of sweetness. I thought it needed a little acid to brighten it up. I got 2 small key limes from my yard. I squeezed the juice from the first lime, stirred it into the Nalewka, gave it a few minutes to mix and tasted the result. That did it for me, I didn’t think I needed the second lime. You will have to make your own choices to suite your taste buds.
OK, time to filter and bottle. I used my 3 rags and a coffee filter technique to get most of the particulate out. I know I will have to do a second filtering after this peach vodka infusion matures for a few weeks and some more gunk precipitates on the bottom of the bottle.
|I used my 3 rags and a coffee filtering technique.||Not sure, yet, what I will do with all them vodka infused and syrup soaked peaches.||Already it’s a peachy keen, sipping, cordial style Nalewka.|
I tasted it again after 1 week — mm, mmm, good. Already it’s a peachy keen, sipping, cordial style Nalewka. If it lasts a few more months in the bottle it will be awesome.
In Italian Tutti Frutti means "all the fruits". It's a popular, colorful treat made with a variety of candied fruits. It can be an ice cream flavored with many fruits includeing cherries, raisins, pineapple and some nuts thrown in for good measure. The Dutch use the name to describe a compote made by boiling a bunch of dried fruit. In Belgium, Tutti Frutti is a dessert made from raisins, currants, apricots, prunes, dates, and figs. I guess in England they took the idea, made it inedible and called it Fruit Cake. In Poland, today, it is perhaps one of the most popular homemade Nalewkas. It's roots are ancient and it's fun to make so here we go...