First let me say that we’re not going to be creating any alcohol from scratch (despite my 3 am dreams); that would actually be illegal unless of course you have a license. What I am going to share with you is how to take you Rum and add to it thereby creating a tailored drink so you can enthral your friends and family with your new skills.
A common question that I get asked is ‘what is the difference between infusing and blending ?’ Well, Blending is the process of taking two or more store-bought alcohols and mixing them together to create a new customer flavour. Infusion is the process of adding to the basic character of the rum by adding fruits, herbs and spices you chosen alcohol.
In this post, I will take you through the basics of how you can create your own infusions safely at home in your kitchens.
Infusion tools – what you will need
To make infused Rum at home, you only need a few inexpensive tools to get started. Some of these items you may already have in your kitchen; but if you haven’t, I have provided some links to help you find some of them online.
Muddler – to release the flavours in you ingredients requires some forms of agitation or friction. A Muddler helps to bruise the items and release the natural oils in the spices or fruits and ensure that more of the essence is leeched into the rum.
Peeler – A good peeler helps to release a fine layer of zest without bringing with it the white pith. This is important as this secondary layer can often introduce a sour note into the final infusions and throw you off you course. The more dexterous of you will swear by a small pairing knife, I prefer a peeler for speed and volume.
Mason Jar – these containers have been around for a long time and are durable and help to ensure that unwanted objects do not get into you incubating infusions. The glass makes it easier to reuse the containers after a thorough clean to ensure that the flavours from previous batches are removed.
Strainer – in home infusions, you do not have the benefit of some industrial processes that remove the fine residue or ‘mist’ that is left behind as part of the process. Whilst most of the time this is not a concern and accepted in an artisan product; some people would prefer not to see this. Using repeated passes with fine mesh strainer and cheesecloth will filter this out and ‘polish up’ your final product.
Funnel – this is a crucial piece of equipment for transferring you liquid between containers. The size of you funnels will depend on the size of containers and the bottles you want to used to present your infusion. My advice is to have a selection of 3 sizes for most eventualities.
Choosing a Rum for your Infused Rum crafting
Most spirits are an efficient base liquids for your infusions. As a general rule, spirits act as preserving agent, adding to the lifespan of your concoctions.
The first step is to choose your Rum. Keep in mind the original rums quality and pick something that will compliment it. Their are lots of rums on the market and in 2020, Rum is projected to outperform Gin in worldwide sales, so there will be a lot to choose from. This blog is not supposed to be a ‘Best Rums for home infusion’ review, so here are my thoughts on selecting a rum to use;
- Choose a rum that you already enjoy – you know the flavour and are most likely able to consider the items that will compliment it. (Try a few samples in these links if you don’t have a favourite at the moment)
- Don’t break the bank – making infused rum at home is very much about creating something that speaks to you and you lifestyle. Using a simple neutral rum for this purpose can often be as good considering that you will create you own flavour profile. Check out supermarket own brands.
- Consider the starting colour – darker rums already have a more toasty, caramel notes from the barrel ageing, whilst white rum of presents as more neutral starting point. Keeping this in mind helps you with selecting your fruit or botanical.
- If you are from an area that produces rum no-one is unbiased – here are my favourites from my heritage, travels and extended family; Westerhall Jack Iron; Chairman’s reserve, and for those special occasions Ron Zacapa XO.
How To Infuse with Rum
Once you’ve arranged your tools, chosen your Rum, fruit, and any additional ingredients, you are ready to start infusing !
Step 1: Prep Your Ingredients
It is important to prepare your ingredients. For most fruits, that means washing them, removing the parts you wouldn’t normally eat such as the tough rinds, leaves, cores, pits, stems, etc. and chopping the edible parts into chunks. You may also choose to macerate them but that it totally down to preference.
When using fruits, you should wash them and remove the parts you wouldn’t normally eat such as the tough rinds, leaves, cores, pits, stems, etc., then chop the edible parts into chunks. You can leave the edible skins of fruits like peaches, apples, and pears on or off. Some skins can add a nice colour but can also give a bitter compounds to your infusion over time.
Step 2 : Determine your proportions
When using fruit, the safest ration is one portion of rum to one portion of fruit. For herbs and spices, the ratios are even smaller with ratios of 1:4 for herbs and 1:8 for spices. It is easier to steep your infusion for longer and extract more flavour rather than to dial back once you have over infused. Some ingredients like ginger or clove can over power your infusion easily in a short period.
Step 3 : Combine, shake and store
One you have added all your ingredients and the rum, you will need to find a cool dark place store out of direct sunlight to store your jars. Deciding on the length of time for an infusion is not an exact science and will be down to your taste and preferences. However, there are some general rules as a starting point;
- Immediate – just as the title suggests and an infusion that you can enjoy a few hours after you prepare it.
- Short – A short infusion takes up to 24 hours to allow the flavours to develop.
- Long – This can take anywhere from one day to a few weeks to allow the ingredients to fully infuse through the rum
Remember – shake the jars every day to recombines all the ingredients, and taste every day for the longer infusions so that you can strain the liquid one the desired taste is reached.
Step 4 : Strain and decant
When your infusion is ready to be bottled, strain the infusion ingredients using a funnel lined with cheesecloth; for some infusions you may also want to add a secondary straining process a few days later using coffee filter paper to remove even more of the sediment, but that it totally up to you.
NB: You can of course buy a compete kit to pull it all together. Here is a couple you might find great presents or be selfish and keep them for yourself… Complete Cocktail Shaker Infuser Set, Rokz infusion bottle.
And now, you’re good to go !
Infused Rum recipes
Now that you have all the essential ingredients the best thing to do now if experiment and practice. Here are two to get started ;
Coconut Rum (long infusion)
This is a great addition to spruce up a Pina Colada and pairs well with Thai or Caribbean food.
You will need: 700 ml white rum, 1 coconut.
- Drill a hole in the coconut, drain and discard the liquid.
- Break the coconut into pieces and feel off the shell.
- Place coconut pieces in a food processor and shred.
- Please the shredded coconut into the bottom of you mason jar.
- Add rum, shake to combine and seal the jar.
- Let the mixture infuse for 2 weeks out of direct sunlight, tasting and gently shaking regularly.
- Strain the rum into a clean bottle and cap.
Spiced Cranberry Rum (short infusion)
You will need: 400 ml white rum, 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, 1 stick of cinnamon, cloves, 5cm lime peel, 1 tsp sugar
- Place cranberries in a Mason jar and muddle until crushed
- Add rum, seal, and shake for 30 seconds.
- Add cinnamon, cloves, lime and sugar.
- Shake, seal and store for 24hrs in fridge and taste after 12hrs.
- Strain liquid through cheesecloth, squeezing to extract excess liquid. Infusion will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.
The conclusion is that there is no conclusion, this is just the beginning.
In this post we have looked at how you can make delicious infusions on your own without special training. Having the right tools, and an awareness of how ingredients can react when agitated is the basis of everything you need to create interesting drinks for sharing with friends or as your first step into making really special cocktails and lasting memories.
Please feel free to comment below as my aim is to educate and inform my readers about this wonderful and versatile liquid;
What was the most surprising fact in this blog ?
Do you have your own story about this topic to share ? (feel free to do it in the comments below)
What other topics would you like me to write about ?