Saturday, June 11, 2011

Leah's Spicy Olive & Pepper Infused Vodka

It seems I've become obsessed with infusing vodkas.  It's just so delicious, so simple, and the bottles turn out so lovely!  Kyle says I've turned our home into a distillery, and I'm not sure if that is a compliment or an insult.

My latest effort was a spicy olive vodka.  I layered olives, pearl onions and an assortment of sweet and spicy peppers in a jar.  I wanted to recreate something that my friend Kara had told me about - she had it in a martini at a bar, and said it was delicious.

I got my jars super cheap on Crate & Barrel's website, but they can be found all over the web (or in your local grocery store).  The nicer ones are harder to find at the store, so I've been buying them online.  Here is the specific jar I used for this recipe:

This recipe will make two bottles, so if you want just one, simply half the ingredients.

2 one liter airtight jars
1 20 oz jar green olives (I used queen, with pimentos)
1 16 oz jar cocktail onions (not the tipsy ones, since you'll be adding your own liquor)
1 16 oz jar yellow & red sweet roasted peppers
1 16 oz jar hot cherry peppers
1 8 oz jar guerito peppers
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 1.5 liter bottle of vodka (I used Svedka because it was on sale!)

Simply layer the ingredients however you want!  I chose to alternate to showcase the colors, but there is really no right or wrong here.  Next time, I am planning to try different types of olives and adding a few pickle spears for a more sour and salty mix.  Also, be sure to fill the jar all the way to the top before adding the vodka.  There will still be plenty of room, and it will make for a nice presentation and more intensely flavored infusion.

As far as the heat, I only used about half the jar of guerito peppers, but all of the rest of the ingredients from above, and mine came out spicy, but not hot.  This is totally a personal preference, so you may want to experiment with the number and types of peppers.

Once you have filled the jar with vegetables, add 1/2 tbsp lemon juice per bottle, fill to the very top with vodka, and place the lid on.  Be sure to close tightly.  Shake the bottle a couple of times per day to invigorate the ingredients.   I let mine marinate for about 36 hours and it was already tasty, but I'm sure it will taste even better in a week or so.  Store the vodka in a cool place, out of direct sunlight, and it should last for several months.
Serve with a bit of vermouth for a vodka martini, mix into cocktails, or try it in a Bloody Mary.  Yum!

Tips:  The marinated vegetables make great garnishes, as they are infused with flavor as well.

You can use fresh peppers if you prefer, but you will need to remove all of the seeds, membranes, and stems before adding, as those interior bits can disintegrate and give your infused liquor a bitter taste. Also, if you want a stronger olive flavor, I suggest getting a slightly larger jar of olives.  The olive flavor is primary in this version, but the peppers are strong as well.  Enjoy!

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