What’s Cook­ing in SWFL

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I look for one that has been dis­tilled three to five times, one that is a lit­tle cleaner and made from corn.” If you are in­fus­ing fruits like ap­ples or pineap­ples in vodka, you can go as long as two to three weeks, Ram­sey says, but you have to be care­ful with cit­rus such as lemons and limes be­cause of the acid. “Less than a week for those,” he adds. Ram­sey also in­fuses bour­bon with orange slices, vanilla and cin­na­mon sticks to make a tasty hot toddy. When it comes to choos­ing a spirit to in­fuse at home or pro­fes­sion­ally, Kupitz says, “Blanco tequila is an­other one that latches on to dif­fer­ent fla­vors and is great with trop­i­cal in­gre­di­ents.” At The Con­ti­nen­tal he in­fuses tequila with pineap­ple and vanilla bean. “The pineap­ple soft­ens the bite of the agave, and the vanilla adds a bit of sweet­ness,” he ex­plains. Bob Boye, chef/owner at Cru in Fort My­ers, did ex­ten­sive ex­per­i­ments in­fus­ing jalapeño pep­pers in tequila for his Hot and Skinny Mar­tini. “My recipe was born out of fail­ure,” he says. First he tried grilling the pep­pers and let­ting them soak in the tequila. His next at­tempt in­volved steep­ing the pep­pers in heated tequila as you would do with tea leaves. Then he went through a phase us­ing nitro­gen can­is­ters. The can­is­ters cre­ated pres­sure, forc­ing the tequila into the cell wall of the pep­per for great color, but it was still lack­ing the fla­vor he wanted. Fi­nally he hit the jack­pot with the clas­sic sous-vide cook­ing method. Once the pep­pers are grilled, Boye vac­uum seals them in a bag of re­posado tequila, and then puts the bag in a low-heat wa­ter bath. “It pro­duces the max­i­mum amount of aro­mat­ics and fla­vor,” he says. “I use re­posado be­cause I en­joy the oak el­e­ments in this type of tequila with the pep­pers.” For DIY in­fu­sions, the time it takes to achieve ideal fla­vor de­pends on the in­gre­di­ents, ac­cord­ing to Kupitz. For ex­am­ple, he says, “If you’re us­ing cu­cum­ber and mint and you take it out and strain it after only one day, you might have the color but not the fla­vor. It will taste cheap.” On the flip side, when left too long, the in­gre­di­ents will break down and the color will be off. He ad­vises, “The rule of thumb for most is five to seven days, depend­ing on the in­gre­di­ent, of course, but you ab­so­lutely have to taste it ev­ery day.” If you are se­ri­ous about cre­at­ing your own in­fu­sions, Kupitz rec­om­mends con­sult­ing the web­site Cru­cial De­tail (cru­cialde­tail.com). Here you will find recipes and a strik­ing de­vice called the Port­hole that is per­fect for in­fus­ing spir­its, oils and more. Re­gard­less of the ves­sel or in­gre­di­ents used, tast­ing is key to hit­ting the sweet spot when in­fus­ing your own spir­its. Cheers.

When it comes to DIY in­fu­sions, vodka is a per­fect place to start be­cause it has a milder fla­vor pro­file that adapts well to other in­gre­di­ents

Gina Birch is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor, a lover of good food and drink, and a well-known me­dia per­son­al­ity in South­west Florida.

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