Every year I plan to make Christmas aquavit and I never do. This year, I may have started a little late, but at least everything is infusing in a jar and we will enjoy some sips at Christmas.
Ideally, I would have the aquavit ready to go before December 1st. That way we can fill our advent snaps bottle and enjoy a little aquavit with dinner each night.
It is the perfect time of year to make aquavit - the citrus season has begun, and the scent of herbs and spices toasting in a pan really announces the start of the holidays.
This recipe is so easy. It takes only a few minutes to prepare and the rest of the time is just waiting for it to fully infuse. Most of the ingredients are easily found in your kitchen.
Let's get started.
You will need:
1 bottle of vodka, I used Volstead from House Spirits here in Portland. I would also recommend using Smirnoff - a clear, smooth vodka at a nice price point. Don't waste money on Grey Goose. Also: An 80 proof vodka will take longer to extract the flavors from the herbs and spices than a 100 proof vodka, but I like mine to sit a while. Also I can't be bothered to add the right amount of water to bring the proof down after all the flavor has been extracted. So I went with 80 proof.
1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
2 - 3 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon dill seeds (optional)
3 crushed cardamom pods (I hit them lightly with a hammer or big wooden spoon to make sure they are cracked open)
2 whole cloves
peel from one organic orange, with no trace of white pith, use a vegetable peeler to gently peel just the orange part of the peel.
peel from one organic lemon, with no trace of white pith, use a vegetable peeler to gently peel just the yellow part of the peel.
In a small skillet, toast the herbs and spices over low-medium heat until lightly toasted; they will just begin to release their fragrance. If they are burned or overly toasted, discard, and start again. Remove from heat and let them cool a few minutes in the pan.
Add the herbs and spices to a quart mason jar or other lidded glass jar. Add the citrus peels to the jar, inspecting the peels closely so you do not to include any white pith, or your aquavit will be bitter, and won't have the right balance of flavor.
Pour the bottle of vodka over the herbs, spices, and citrus peels until jar is nearly full. Secure the lid tightly and give it a gentle shake. Put it in a cool, dark place for 14 to 40 days until it tastes bright and herbal. I dip a clean spoon in and take a sip. Be sure to give the infusion a gentle shake every other day, or so.
When it is ready, strain the contents through a sieve lined with a coffee filter into quart mason jar. Use a funnel pour the contents of the mason jar into a bottle or decanter.
Aquavit is served with meals, but it also makes a nice after dinner sip.