How to fix an infused vodka gone wrong?

phoophoo Registered User
edited August 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
A friend recently gave me a bottle of vodka. A very sweet gesture that I wanted to return, so I took some cherries and mango and soaked them in the vodka. Unfortunately, I let them soak a bit too long. Now there are these harsh overtones and finish. I had split the vodka into two batches because there was not room and the small batch immediately tasted harsh, so I thought at first it was the vodka. The harsh tastes is a bit like low-end super harsh alcohol. Then the large batch went from sweet to this nasty harshness. I don't want to spend money on a whole new bottle of vodka to start over with, so how can I save this? Certainly I plan to mix it with something for drinking, but I am not even sure sugar will counteract this type and level of harshness.

phoo on

Posts

  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    You probably can't "save" the fruit on its own

    you could try and use the fruit to make a vodka-heavy sangria, or just put it in a punch and cut it with juice

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  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy The Astral PlaneRegistered User regular
    how long did you infuse it out of curiosity? I am currently infusing some of my own and I'd like to avoid harshness : P

    but yeah, diluting it might help. I infused some vodka with cinnamon with too much for too long and it ended up tasting like red hots. undrinkable on its own but it ended up being fantastic when mixed into a boozy hot chocolate.

    Elki wrote: »

    Casual Eddy: best poster 2014.
    tyrannus wrote: »
    Casual Eddy: best poster of 2015

    gotta update that stuff man
  • phoophoo Registered User
    It was close to a week, in the fridge. I don't remember precisely as just after I put the fruit in, I came down with bronchitis just afterwards so I didn't keep the eye on it as I should have. When it tastes deep, mellow and sweet, remove the fruit right away. The small container went bad right away because there was a higher fruit:vodka ratio.

    It's not the fruit I am trying to save. I'm thinking of blending that into icecream. :) It's the vodka that is the problem. I am not sure even mixing it with orange juice will do the trick. pineapple? Is it sweet I should be going toward or some kind of spice?

  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    It's only vodka. Just dump a bunch of some other fruit juice on top of it or just pour it down the drain. Expensive vodka is complete bullshit. It's just a marketing ploy.

  • phoophoo Registered User
    edited August 2012
    I have considered soaking more fruit in it, but I do not know if that would fix it, or if I'd just be throwing more money at it for no reason.

    I really do not have the cash to go dumping vodka down the drain. I want to share this with the friend who gave it to me, as a way of thanking her for her gift. If I can get it to taste less turpentiney.

    phoo on
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    you could make a vodka watermelon; the quality of the liquor doesn't matter much for that

    they're getting toward out of season, though

    NREqxl5.jpg
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    Basically whatever it tastes like you need to treat like a super strong mixer. Best to be combined with a weaker flavor.

  • Giggles_FunsworthGiggles_Funsworth Blight on Discourse Bay Area SprawlRegistered User regular
    @Esh What is a good vodka and what should I look for in a good vodka?

    Bonus: Same with Gin and Tequila.

  • illigillig Registered User regular
    Filtering cheap vodka several times through a charcoal filter (like a brita) tends to reduce the harsh "cheap hooch" type taste - it may work for you as well?

  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    @Esh What is a good vodka and what should I look for in a good vodka?

    Bonus: Same with Gin and Tequila.

    To my palette, pretty much any vodka that comes in a glass bottle is serviceable. Stolichnaya is a solid brand for the money.

    Gin, no idea. Can't stand it.

    For tequila, you absolutely want to get something that says "100% agave" on the label. Never, ever, ever buy a "mixtos" tequila (looking at you, Jose Cuervo Especial). Here's some more details.

  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    a5ehren wrote: »
    @Esh What is a good vodka and what should I look for in a good vodka?

    Bonus: Same with Gin and Tequila.

    To my palette, pretty much any vodka that comes in a glass bottle is serviceable. Stolichnaya is a solid brand for the money.

    Gin, no idea. Can't stand it.

    For tequila, you absolutely want to get something that says "100% agave" on the label. Never, ever, ever buy a "mixtos" tequila (looking at you, Jose Cuervo Especial). Here's some more details.

    Yep. Stoli or Monopolowa are great.

    Gin, personal taste really. I drink a lot of Aviation. If you like more juniper, Tanqueray. If you want a smooth gin, Bombay Sapphire (it was made for vodka drinkers). Traditional? Bombay White.

    Midshipman
  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    i like grey goose vodka. its pretty smooth for vodka
    i prefer tanqueray too, though occaisonall some sapphire is good. tequila my go to is casadores, though the higher end sauzas are good too

    mts on
    camo_sig.png
  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Hey so back to the major question that the thread was actually about -- no, you can't really "save" it, but cutting it with something else is certainly a viable possibility. Here at home, we make limoncello, bottle it and give it out as gifts or as a way of saying "thank you." After infusing the vodka with lemon peels, we cut it with simple syrup -- boil about one parts sugar in two parts water until it's dissolved. Once you've made the syrup, let it cool on its own and then try mixing it to a ratio of about 1 part syrup for 3 parts vodka. If it's still too harsh, add in a little more.

    Incidentally, for future reference, we steep the peels for only four days at room temperature. It can't really go bad; the alcohol in the vodka prevents the fruit from spoiling at room temperature, the only trick is that you have to make sure you're doing it in a covered container so that the alcohol can't evaporate out of it.

    SammyF on
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    mts wrote: »
    i like grey goose vodka. its pretty smooth for vodka
    i prefer tanqueray too, though occaisonall some sapphire is good. tequila my go to is casadores, though the higher end sauzas are good too

    You're paying a premium for Grey Goose for absolutely nothing. It's marketed that way. The same guy behind Grey Goose is behind Lil' John's "Crunk Juice" and turning Jagermeister into a frat boy party drink.

  • phoophoo Registered User
    edited August 2012
    SammyF, thank you. I will give that a go. And next time I'll have the good sense to not get sick after I start the infusion and pull it early if I have to. The only other infusion I did was thai chilis and I let that sit a month (at room temp). It was fine, just insanely hot.

    phoo on
  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    Awesome, hope that works.

    Oh, also for future reference -- totally forgot to mention that not only does the container have to be covered to prevent evaporation, it should also be clear. Sunlight prevents the sugars in the fruit from fermenting. Which is also a pretty good reason to not put it in the fridge.

  • phoophoo Registered User
    well, it was clear, but it surely did not get sunshine. I had no idea that sun would *prevent* fermentation. I also seemed to remember that metal lids are Bad, so I put a little saran wrap on the top before screwing the metal lid on. I'm guessing that fermentation is the Bad Thing that happened to it, which is why it tastes like hooch gone wrong.

    I suspect that if I did the filtering thing (I do have an brita filter), it would also filter out the flavor.

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    I don't do infusions with stuff that can spoil readily (fresh fruit flesh), which isn't to say it can't be done. Rind or dried fruit is as perishable as I go.

    It's a nice gesture to infuse with a spendy vodka, but you could use Skol and given the consumption no one could say it wasn't Chopin.

    Clean cheap vodkas: monopolowa, luksosowa, and I've gotten svedka when I really needed to save $2/handle.

    Gin, since it is supposed to have flavors, is very subjective. Each type will have different spice/flavoring. I'm a fan of Hendricks, but many find it too cucumber-y.


    For tequila you want 100% agave. If you're mixing there's no need to get anything better than silver. I'd say the same for shots, as most who are drinking straight are not going to appreciate better, but I sip so I do.

  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    phoo wrote: »
    well, it was clear, but it surely did not get sunshine. I had no idea that sun would *prevent* fermentation. I also seemed to remember that metal lids are Bad, so I put a little saran wrap on the top before screwing the metal lid on. I'm guessing that fermentation is the Bad Thing that happened to it, which is why it tastes like hooch gone wrong.

    I suspect that if I did the filtering thing (I do have an brita filter), it would also filter out the flavor.

    I don't know if it fermented in the fridge, as there's also a required temperature range generally.

    I've been looking online for an explanation about why sunlight affects fermentation, but for whatever fucking reason, home brewers generally don't care about the science of why, they just know it results in skunkiness. So I couldn't find any good websites that explain how it works in brewing. You know what I did find? An explanation of why topless sunbathing is beneficial to new mothers who get yeast infections while breastfeeding infants with thrush. Sunlight (or, more specifically, the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight) is lethal to yeast, which converts sugars to alcohol and will thus prevent yeast multiplication during primary fermentation or alcohol creation during secondary fermentation. This is part of the reason why red wines and beers are traditionally sold in dark, semi-opaque bottles, and it's also why I don't care what the fuck the ads say, Corona is a shit lager.

    SammyF on
    tynicTabooPhantasy
  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    Did I just get an "awesome" for calling Corona shit?

    tynic
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    I cannot attest to the mechanism, but all good beer comes in brown bottles, not clear or green ones.

    Also, I don't see how infusing your vodka in broad daylight is an issue unless you've added so much stuff to the the bottle so as to counteract the inherent antiseptic affect of an 80 proof alcohol. Spirits do not continue to ferment, they are distillates of the product of fermentation.

  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    Djeet wrote: »
    I cannot attest to the mechanism, but all good beer comes in brown bottles, not clear or green ones.

    Also, I don't see how infusing your vodka in broad daylight is an issue unless you've added so much stuff to the the bottle so as to counteract the inherent antiseptic affect of an 80 proof alcohol. Spirits do not continue to ferment, they are distillates of the product of fermentation.

    It's not the alcohol itself that causes accidental primary fermentation, it's whatever happens to be living on whatever you chuck into it that occasionally introduces an unanticipated yeast culture.

    Also, alcohol doesn't kill yeast. Yeast isn't a bacteria, it's a fungus.

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    Alcohol kills everything.

  • phoophoo Registered User
    I think you got an awesome for linking breast feeding mothers to fermenting booze. Very interesting stuff. I'll consider my options and make up a test batch of simple syrup to see if it covers the issue before I taint the whole thing with sugar (sweet booze, ew). I may also use less fruit last time. I put in a crapload this time. iirc, 1/2lb of cherries and most of a mango.

  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    I should clarify, different types of yeast can survive perfectly well in different levels of alcohol. Wine usually tops out at 12% because the types of yeast intentionally introduced to ferment it can only survive up to that point, just for instance. Some strains get much higher, which is why sanitation is so important in brewing. If you accidentally get some yeast spores from a different strain, it'll continuing eating up all the residual sugars after your initial yeast culture eats itself to death, and your wine will taste like rubbing alcohol mixed with vinegar. Many (perhaps most) wineries will add sulfites during bottling just to make absolutely sure there is no way you'll end up with a bad bottle of wine because practically no strain of yeast survives that.

    As with vampires, it's always safer just to expose it to sunlight, just in case.

    SammyF on
  • kuhlmeyekuhlmeye Registered User regular
    A high proof alcohol is going to be a waste land for any wild yeast that gets into your infusion from fruit. Most wild yeasts wont be able to handle the high alcohol content in vodka. For reference, most brewing strains max out around 10%, and that's with a boat load of cells.

    Second, sunlight doesn't necessarily cause or prevent fermentation. In beer sunlight causes skunked flavor. It produces a reaction between one of the hop acids and sulfur atoms to cause that flavor. Here's a little article that explains it. Skunky beer explaination

    I would think refrigeration would be the most helpful in preventing wild yeast from fermenting any sugars added. Generally, colder temps should reduce yeast activity, while warmer temps would help promote yeast activity.

    Now, I could be wrong, as I've never infused anything before. I'm going off of homebrewing knowledge here.

    PSN: the-K-flash
  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    I didn't know that about the hops, but sunlight totally still affects alcohols fermented in-bottle which also happen not to include hops, such as wine.

    Anyway, infuse for not more than 4 days, room temperature, covered container, non-metalic lid, pick whatever color you want I guess, and cut with simple syrup if you think the infusion is too harsh. I do this literally every time someone does me a favor, and I work in politics, I have to say "thank you" to about ten people every hour.

  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    SammyF wrote: »
    phoo wrote: »
    well, it was clear, but it surely did not get sunshine. I had no idea that sun would *prevent* fermentation. I also seemed to remember that metal lids are Bad, so I put a little saran wrap on the top before screwing the metal lid on. I'm guessing that fermentation is the Bad Thing that happened to it, which is why it tastes like hooch gone wrong.

    I suspect that if I did the filtering thing (I do have an brita filter), it would also filter out the flavor.

    I don't know if it fermented in the fridge, as there's also a required temperature range generally.

    I've been looking online for an explanation about why sunlight affects fermentation, but for whatever fucking reason, home brewers generally don't care about the science of why, they just know it results in skunkiness. So I couldn't find any good websites that explain how it works in brewing. You know what I did find? An explanation of why topless sunbathing is beneficial to new mothers who get yeast infections while breastfeeding infants with thrush. Sunlight (or, more specifically, the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight) is lethal to yeast, which converts sugars to alcohol and will thus prevent yeast multiplication during primary fermentation or alcohol creation during secondary fermentation. This is part of the reason why red wines and beers are traditionally sold in dark, semi-opaque bottles, and it's also why I don't care what the fuck the ads say, Corona is a shit lager.

    to nitpick its probably not due to the UV but more so that the sun dries everything out more thoroughly so yeast can't grow. it likes moist conditions

    camo_sig.png
  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    a5ehren wrote: »
    @Esh What is a good vodka and what should I look for in a good vodka?

    Bonus: Same with Gin and Tequila.

    To my palette, pretty much any vodka that comes in a glass bottle is serviceable. Stolichnaya is a solid brand for the money.

    Gin, no idea. Can't stand it.

    For tequila, you absolutely want to get something that says "100% agave" on the label. Never, ever, ever buy a "mixtos" tequila (looking at you, Jose Cuervo Especial). Here's some more details.

    Generally, you want to just make sure it was beer or wine at some point in the past and hasn't had any citric acid powder added to it for tax reasons (that's why cheap vodka has an odd sourness, although even undoctored vodka has a ph of 6). After that, you're just paying a premium for trace congeners (for example, southern soviet states tend to like to start with fruit wine while the vodka belt uses beer).

    One thing to look out for is that you may have just created a concentrate. Try borrowing some vodka from a friend and watering down a shot of your stuff.

  • TehSpectreTehSpectre Registered User regular
    I don't know if this could save it, but you may try removing all the fruit that you've used and try the vodka in a milk liqueur.

    Even if it doesn't help this time, you should give it a try:


    How-to: Milk That Will Get You Hammered

    Sloth_Sig.png
  • phoophoo Registered User
    A quick update:

    I've been keeping the vodka in the freezer and it doesn't seem as horrible as I remember. Tonight I microwaved some honey into water and poured it into a little vodka in a glass. It totally helped! Many thanks, folks.

    If I nuke the honey into water again and shake it up good into the vodka, it won't separate out in the freezer will it?

  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    phoo wrote: »
    A quick update:

    I've been keeping the vodka in the freezer and it doesn't seem as horrible as I remember. Tonight I microwaved some honey into water and poured it into a little vodka in a glass. It totally helped! Many thanks, folks.

    If I nuke the honey into water again and shake it up good into the vodka, it won't separate out in the freezer will it?

    I know molasses will. During the Great Depression, tonic bottles tended to explode because the molasses settled on the bottom and started to ferment.

  • phoophoo Registered User
    We shall find out as I started with the whole bottle this morning. I used honey not just out of easiness, but because I felt the roundness was something that the infusion lost when it sat too long and ended up with a harsh spikiness instead.

  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    The honey will definitely separate back out. Faster, I think, if you're keeping it in the freezer.

    What is this I don't even.
  • phoophoo Registered User
    I served it last night, with some 7up over it, and you couldn't tell there was a thing wrong with it. Next time I will definitely catch it earlier, but at least it didn't end up totally wrecked this time. My friend who had not intended to drink ended up enjoying the heck out of it.

    @DarkeWolfe: That just means I'll have to drink it faster. :)

  • JusticeJustice Registered User regular
    phoo wrote: »
    A quick update:

    I've been keeping the vodka in the freezer and it doesn't seem as horrible as I remember. Tonight I microwaved some honey into water and poured it into a little vodka in a glass. It totally helped! Many thanks, folks.

    If I nuke the honey into water again and shake it up good into the vodka, it won't separate out in the freezer will it?

    Where'd you get the idea to microwave honey into water and mix it with your vodka? I'm not saying it's bad, but it would never, ever occur to me to do.

  • phoophoo Registered User
    edited September 2012
    @Justice: I am a cook (not professionally, heh) and frequently have to do things impromptu or come up with a substitution. I had honey in the cupboard, honey is already a liquid. I saw I could make a syrup by adding water to it. It'll reach the boiling point very easily in the microwave and I don't need super control over it like I would if I were making candy. As a bonus, honey has a flavor that I decided would benefit rather than detract from the vodka, as long as I was careful not to make it overpowering.

    Straight up you can still taste some of the unpleasant zing, but if you didn't know, you might dismiss it as alcohol zing. Served with a mixer like 7up, it is perfect.

    I really appreciate everyone helping me save this. I seriously hate throwing anything out, and next time I make a fresh food infusion I will have a better idea what I am shooting for and when to pull it.

    I have also done strange things like bring butter quickly up to room temperature using the crockpot (without melting it) or make brown or powdered sugar if I am in a real pinch.

    phoo on
  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    A stronger mixer like Movie or ginger beer would probably cover the off even better than seven up.

  • phoophoo Registered User
    Actually, the 7up was better than gingerale as it showcased the cherry flavor better.

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