No, I am not one of those crazy ladies that has all of her Christmas shopping done before Halloween. But, I do have a simple yet special holiday gift idea to share now because they take time to age – homemade liqueurs! and for those that do not drink alcohol, infused oil or vinegars.
You can find pretty bottles almost anywhere these days, from discount and thrift stores to your own recycle bin. Be sure to sterilize them before use though! The liqueurs have been a family tradition for over 25 years.
I hope to enjoy some Kahlua that has been around that long this Thanksgiving. It is so thick that you really need to mix it with something in order to drink it. Go ahead and use cheap vodka to make these, no sense wasting the good stuff when you won’t be able to notice the difference when it is done. But, you do want to use good vanilla and fresh anise (not a bottle that has been in your cupboard for 10 years) if you can.
A quick chart to help you decide what to make and when:
- Kahlua – coffee flavored – minimum 30 days to age (better yet, make it now to give away NEXT year!)
- Apricot liqueur – apricot flavored (duh!) – 3 weeks to age
- Amaretto – almond flavored – does not need to age, but you can use the Apricot Liqueur to make it.
- Galliano – licorice flavored – 2 weeks to age.
One not on the list, but an inside joke in our family is Uncle John’s Apricot Brandy – pour brandy (not VSOP) over some dried apricots in a jelly jar and let them marinade for about a month. Enjoy both the apricots and the brandy and force your great nephew who rarely drinks to have them every year at Thanksgiving!
You can store the liqueur in the vodka bottle until they have aged and you are ready to give them as gifts (or serve them). Here are Ma’am’s ideas for bottling them for gift giving.
To make Infused or Seasoned Oil or Vinegars, simply pour some good extra virgin olive oil or vinegar into a bottle and add “something”, then let it age about a month. The longer you let it sit, the stronger the taste.
What is that “something” you should add? Whatever you have in your garden or find at the Farmer’s Market that you think would be good: garlic, peppers, rosemary, lavender, sage, etc. You can bottle them up for gift giving just as you do the liqueurs. Use the oil or vinegar to make salad dressings or marinades or use them in stir frys.
One of my favorite tricks is to use a few teaspoons of jalapeno garlic oil when I make fried rice.
Until next time, happy eating! ~Audrey