Homemade Wild Fennel-infused Liquor/Liqueuer

Categories: Cooking!
wildfennel_2.jpg
Willy Blackmore
Wild Fennel Blossoms
Distilling liquor at home, on the sly, is seriously risky business--blindness, explosions, jail time, etc, all being possible outcomes--but that doesn't mean you can't add a personal touch to a few bottles in your stock. Infusing an unassuming high-proof alcohol--vodka, say--can be as simple as throwing a dried chili or a few curls of lemon zest in the bottle and waiting. More involved homemade liquor projects can involve multiple aromatics, bittering agents, sugar, fruit and more (like the blood orange wine I made over the winter, for example), but there's a certain weed whose flowers are readily available this time of year which can help turn a quantity of liquor into a wonderful, anise-scented, absinthe-like drink: wild fennel.

After experimenting with collecting wild fennel pollen late last summer (a tedious, low-yielding process which both tastes amazing and makes it abundantly clear why tins of this the golden dust cost so much) and the fresh, tender fronds this spring, wild fennel-infused vodka is my new undertaking. And now that the invasive weed has bolted over head-high and sprouted its arrays of tiny yellow pollen-dusted blooms, this is the season for wild fennel infusing (and cooking). This video from the Small Screen Network's Inside the Kitchen Door shows how to make a fennel-infused liquor with the aide of an immersion circulator, a device I highly doubt many readers are in possession of. But kitchen gadgetry is far from necessary for infusing alcohol--all that's needed is the alcohol, a jar, fennel blossoms (or other aromatics) and patience. Going about combining these basic ingredients can be done in two ways: steep a large quantity of blossoms, along with some sugar, in the alcohol for a specific period of time--forty days and forty nights being the standard--then drain off the finished, infused liqueur (this spelling largely denoting the addition of sugar). Conversely, you can simply add a few clusters of flowers to the alcohol and leave them in until the liquor is gone, giving the infusion a gradual heightening of intensity the longer it sits.

Wild Fennel-infused Liqueur

Method #1

4 oz. wild fennel blossoms
750 ml decent-quality vodka (Absolut is suitable)
½ cup sugar

Place the blossoms in a sealable glass jar
Add the sugar and vodka, seal and store for forty days, inverting the jar every few days.
Taste after forty days for sweetness and fennel flavor and, if the flavor is to your liking, strain out the liquid and store in a clean glass bottle.

Method #2
Stuff four or five flower clusters down the neck of a full 750 ml bottle of decent-quality vodka. Let the bottle sit for at least one month before drinking. The infused alcohol can be cut with a 1:1 simple syrup, if desired. The flavor will increase the longer the bottle sits with the flowers inside.


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