Taste

\"\\"Krupnik\"Krupnik is a very old Polish Nalewka (vodka infusion or tincture) that was very popular in the Dzikie Pola (wild steppes) and Kresy (outskirts) areas of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth. Before the days of refined sugar honey was the most common sweetener - my recipe gives this traditional honey liqueur some Nahuatl heat.


I have a very productive, 3 year old now, bush of lantern peppers from the Habanero (capsicum chinense) family growing in my yard. I\\\'ve used the peppers for a hot Nalewka before but this time I wanted a sweet liqueur style Nalewka.

To start off you will need to make a basic hot vodka infusion not unlike the Serrano Sun recipy. You can use different hot peppers like the serranos, or jalapenos, or scotch bonnets, or whatever. Please remember that you are not trying to make pepper spray. Moderate the heat because too much methyl vanillyl nonenamide (capsaicin) in your alcohol will make your Nalewka more of a weapon than a beverage.

I used 5 lantern peppers in 1 liter (4.2 cups) of Baczewski vodka. I put the peppers whole in a mason jar and poured in the vodka, closed tightly, gave it a shake and put it in a sunny place for about 2 weeks. I gave the jar a shake every now and than. After 2 weeks I had a very drinkable, pleasant, hot, peppery vodka. Not unlike the Serrano Sun but with a subtly distinct flavor and completely colorless. I bet it would mature well.

\"\\"sunning\\"\" \"\\"ingredence\\"\" \"\\"a\"
Very drinkable, pleasant, hot, peppery vodka - that\\\'s the hot part. Honey and spices - that\\\'s the Krupnik part. Mix them together and you get a delectible Nalewka I was going to call Hot Honey.

Now that we have the hot we have to make the Krupnik. You will need:

  • 1 cup of raw honey
  • Juice and rind from 1 orange
  • Small stick of cinnamon (don\\\'t use powder, it will be hard to filter out)
  • ½ of a nutmeg seed (don\\\'t use powder, for the same reason as above)
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 TSP of caraway seeds (again don\\\'t use powder)
  • 3 cardamon pods split
  • ¼ TSP of vanilla extract, you can also use a split vanilla pod but I didn\\\'t have that on hand

Put all the ingredients in a heavy pot and slowly bring to a boil stirring all the time. If you want a clearer Nalewka you can descum the mixture by removing as much of the foam, that builds up, as you can with a spoon. Boil for about 5 minutes.  If you want to get more flavor from the spices let the honey sit for a few hours or even overnight. You will have to bring the mixture to a boil again before you can mix it with our vodka.

Let the honey and spices cool a little so it is not boiling and pour the hot mixture into the Nalewka through a sieve lined with cheese cloth. We want to catch all the spices.

Back in the  old days Krupnik was often served hot on cold winter evenings but I think this already capsicum heated version tastes better cold. Let the Nalewka cool, filter it again if you want and bottle. It\\\'s good to drink right away but gets much better with age.

I tried it after 3 weeks and it was amazingly satisfying - like drinking hot peppers with a smooth, spiced honey chaser. I was going to name it Hot Honey and give it a Vargas style drawing but you don\\\'t want to have any children around when you Google that name.

Jam It, Pickle it, Cure It by Karen SolomonThis one, as well as several other recipes I've made, was inspired by the book Jam It, Pickle it, Cure It by Karen Solomon. This is a "must have" book for anybody who wants to make their own condiments, preserves or essentials for fun or for economic reasons. For me hot sauce is an essential.

Read more: Grilled Pepper Hot Sauce

Let's make KeylimencelloSo when does a Nalewka stop being just a liquor and starts being a liqueur? It's all in the sugar, but, the funny thing is nobody can give an exact point of transition. To some people most traditional Nalewki are liqueurs because they often have some sugar. Well I think this Nalewka made the full journey from liquor to liqueur and became a cordial.

 

Read more: Key Lime and a Cello

Dill pickles, ogórki kiszone, half sours, ogórki małosolneDill pickles, ogórki kiszone, half sours, ogórki małosolne - it's got to be one of my favorite foods. A sour, sour pickle on a slice of rye bread with a little butter, a half sour straight out of the jar as a midday snack or a bowel of sour pickle soup on a cold day - it just makes me feel good.

Read more: Pickled Cucumbers

icon2.jpgThese are two very basic Nalewkas (pronounced - nah-lef-kahs) to make. Serano Sun is a variation on the ever popular pepper vodka - pieprzówka. Blue Flower Gin is a compound gin, not a distillate like the stuff you get in the store, made with juniper berries, of course, and bergamot leaves and flowers.

Read more: Serrano Sun and Blue Flower Gin

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