Schnapps and liqueurs tastes good. Liqueurs are quite easy to make and requires no special equipment. You can enjoy it any time and anywhere.
As appetizer or after dinner drink. Served with hot and cold dishes. Or added to foods and drinks, teas and coffees. Or Tinctures used against winter chills and viruses, based on natural ingredients like fruits, berries, herbs and spices that are infused in high proof spirits.
Schnapps is the generic term for all white (clear) brandies distilled from fermented fruits. True Schnapps has no sugar added and is definitely an aquired taste, particularly for nationalities not used to raw distillates. Schnapps are different from liqueurs on two major fronts, they being both fermented and distilled, where liqueurs are simply fruits steeped in an alcohol which has already been fermented and distilled. Anyway, most significantly, this means that the run-of-the-mill home liqueur maker will never be able to really capture the whole essence of many commercial schnapps. The chemistry just isn't there. Now, this doesn't mean that you should throw your hands up and walk away from ever trying to make a decent copy of a true schnapps. Liqueurs do go a long way towards tasting like real schnapps, and can make some compelling tastes on their own.
Alcohol bases for schnapps Liqueurs and tinctures are numerous. You can use...Vodka,Pure grain alcohol,Grape brandy -- (armagnac - weinbrand),Fruit brandy -- (calvados - slivovitz - eau-de-vie),Pomace brandy -- (grappa - marc),Rum,Scotch Whisky,Irish Whiskey,Bourbon,Tequila and Gin. Or any combination you can imagine will suit your taste.However...neutral vodka or diluted pure grain alcohol work best in most cases, and that's why most recipes call for that.
Whatever spirit you decide to use as base, always choose good quality. That's very important.
No need to buy very expensive brands, but do avoid the cheap ones. They usually have unpleasant tastes that will adversely affect your schnapps.
Please note that all brands of pure grain alcohol are equal.It's the alcohol percentage that determines not only the amounts but also the types of plant constituents you extract.The volatile, aromatic constituents are best extracted in spirits with an alcohol content between 35% and 40% (70-80 proof), though in some cases you can use spirits with lower percentages.
If you use spirits with greater alcohol content than 40% you will still extract the volatile, aromatic constituents - but at the same time you might also extract a number of bad-tasting bitter constituents. It depends on the plant material you use.
Most frequently used is 37,5%-40% - (75-80 proof). Besides, in Britain or where I live, I've never seen a higher proof than 40% .
To flavour schnapps, vodka or whatever base spirit you choose, you get the best result, if you use natural ingredients like herbs, fruits, berries, nuts, spices, leaves, sprigs, roots, seeds, peels, blossoms, beans, pods, barks, etc.
Also, it does matter whether you use home-growns or plant material from the supermarket or local grocer.Not that you get a bad schnapps from commercially produced plants. Far from it. But a schnapps based on home grown plants or plant parts is usually so much more aromatic and tastes better.If you can't get home grown or wild plant material, it's a good idea to buy organic if available.Very often it also matters whether your plant material comes from wild or cultivated plants. Many wild herbs, fruits and berries have much stronger taste and aromas than cultivated ones. So, whenever possible you should use wild edible plants or plant parts for your schnapps making. Wild plants grow in woods, heaths, field boundaries, dunes, meadows, hedgerows, wetlands, sandy areas, hillsides, etc. Some wild plants are easy to find. Others you must look for - that's just part of the excitement. Just remember... NEVER use plants or plant parts you don't know. Never! They could be unhealthy or even poisonous. Use a plant identification guide or local flora to find out.
You can dry your plants or plant parts for later use.
Just be aware that plant flavours will either change, be more concentrated, or even disappear during the drying process.
This can be good. Or bad. It all depends on what kind of flavoured schnapps you want to make - and what suits your taste. Some plant materials keep their colours and flavours better if you freeze them instead. Just remember to defrost them in the spirit when you make your flavoured schnapps, or they will loose too much of their flavours.
You don't need much more than some glass jars and bottles to make your own flavoured schnapps. And most of the equipment are things you may already have in your kitchen cupboards and drawers. To make flavoured schnapps you must first make one or more infusions of the flavours from herbs, fruits, berries, etc. This is done by steeping your plant material in spirits. The length of steeping periods vary depending on the alcohol content of your spirit, the type and amount of plant material you use and what suits your taste Ive left tictures steeping for over six months yet, strawberries for a liqueur only two weeks. .
Filtering (for me) serves two purposes, clarity and safety. But I do squeeze my stuff to get the very last drop of benefit from the plant material when making a tincture, I don't squeeze for drinks like schnapps and liqueur. Using a coffee filter takes foreverrrrrrrrrrrr. I use muslim or go to the market and buy a £2 roll of extra large white dishcloths and, though they already come in two layers, I use 2 dishcloths so that makes four layers of filtration and I boil mine first. Whatever you use, Jars, bottles, filters and spoons must still be scrupulously clean.
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