We received these two questions this week regarding cheesemaking. Thought we’d pass on our suggestions for those making cheese.
Q: How can I clean my cheese cloth for reuse?
A: It’s a good idea to not use soap for cleaning your cheese cloth. We recommend putting it in your washing machine or dishwasher on ‘quick cycle’ without soap. Make sure to use a hot setting. You can also just do it by hand with hot water.
Q: What do I do with all of the whey left from my cheesemaking?
A: You can substitute for water when baking this will give your baked goods breads a sourdough flavor. You can use it in smoothies for the nutritional benefits. You can also feed it to animals for extra nutrition.
DIY Alcohol Infusions with Recipes
- Mason jars, or large glass bottles with secure lids
- Alcohol of choice (typically vodka, bourbon, brandy or rye)
- Infusion ingredients (included in your kit)
- Fresh fruit, herbs or additional spice
- Labels or ribbons for your jars if you are making gifts
Typically you’ll want to fill a mason jar with the alcohol base and then place in spice and fruit over time based on the flavor profile you are trying to achieve. These recipes are recommendations, but you should feel free to experiment. We do not include the fruit suggested in these recipes.
Be sure to clean your mason jar and thoroughly wash your fruit before placing in infusion.
Store you infusion in a cool, dark place.
The infusion should be for 3 weeks. You can and should taste as the infusion progresses, to make any changes you desire.
When you have achieved the desired infusion, strain the alcohol, removing any of the organic ingredients.
What you should know before you start:
- Typically use a standard brand alcohol at a mid-price range for creating your infusion. Don’t by the top-shelf for infusion, but also avoid the cheap stuff too. Smirnoff is perfect for vodka infusions.
- Create a flavor profile which is for the intended cocktail you are envisioning it’s used in. For example Bloody Mary of Old Fashioned.
- Typically you want to give your infusion 3 weeks to build the flavor profile. If you want to highlight a flavor, keep it in longer and remove something which you want to be a complement.
- Start out with less and add more if and as desired. The longer your infusion sits, the stronger the flavor profile. If you over flavor, you can dilute with more of the foundation alcohol.
- Vodka, brandy and bourbon are what we recommend for infusions. They tend to not have complex flavor profiles and can be more easily infused.
- Generally Rum, Scotch and Tequila are not great for infusions, because they have their own character. We do include a Tequila recipe though.
- When using citrus, use only the peel and make sure to scrape off the bitter white pith before use.
- We don’t have any recipes which include gin, because gin is itself an infused alcohol.
Spiced Whiskey: Gentian, Orange Peel, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Clove
Apple Ginger Bourbon: ½ Sliced Apple, 1 tbs Ginger
Fig Rye: 2 sliced figs
2 Fig & 1 Cardamom pod
½ sliced Apple & 1 Cinnamon stick
Spiced Brandy: Gentian, Orange Peel, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Clove
Cardamom & Anise
1 tsp Lavender & 1 Orange peel
1 teaspoon Juniper Berries & 2 Cloves
Bloody Mary: 1 tsp Coriander, 1 tsp Caraway, 1 tsp Juniper Berry, 1 tsp peppercorns
1 Chipotle Chile & 2 Anise Stars
1 tsp Peppercorns & 1 tsp ginger
Apple Rye – Combine 2 oz of your Apple Ginger Bourbon with 4 shakes of apple bitters. Stir in 1 teaspoon of sugar and serve over crushed ice.
Bloody Mary – Combine 2 oz of your Bloody Mary Vodka with 3 dashes worchestire, small can of tomato juice, dash hot sauce, salt and black pepper to taste, ¼ tsp horseradish. Mix well and serve with celery stick on ice.
Brandy Bean – 2 oz Fig and Cardamom Brandy, add hot coffee, 1 tsp sugar and cream. Stir well and serve on a cold day.
Ta-kill-ya – 2 oz Chipotle and Anise infused Tequila, tropical juice (passion fruit, mango, papaya), splash grenadine, serve over ice.
In these times of labor automation and displacement, it’s important that we all recognize and embrace the importance of those who work in a trade, with their hands and to make things. We at Grow and Make believe in the value and importance of labor.
Interested in learning how to make a shower curtain from discarded sheets? We have an article to show you how.
My kids started school this week and it is always a special time. The excitement of new teachers, seeing old friends, the change of season starting and the symbolic growth and renewal.
I’m a huge fan of the New York Times new ‘The Daily‘ podcast. The reporting is amazing and I hope they win a Pulitzer for it.
I discovered a cocktail that I love last week called an Apple Crye. It’s 1.5 oz of a good rye whiskey, 3 shakes home made apple bitters and a teaspoon of simple syrup. Stir and serve over crushed ice.
We have an updated version of our article on creating an apron from a discarded men’s dress shirt available.
Making cocktail bitters is a fun way to make distinctive flavors and a high quality bitter.
You will need:
3 Cardamon pods, 3 whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, 5 dried apple slices
A mason jar with a tight fitting lid (at least 8 oz)
4 oz (about 1/2 cup) of high ABV spirits or 6 oz (about ¾ cup) vodka or other spirits with 50% alcohol per volume
How to make your bitters:
Clean a mason jar well.
Crush the cardamom and the cloves in a mortar and pestle or with a heavy glass. The cinnamon sticks are very hard and do not need to be cut. If there are some flavors you would like to highlight or downplay, feel free to improvise. It is recommended to take notes so you can tailor the recipe specifically to your tastes in future batches.
Place the spices, cinnamon sticks and apple slices in the bottom of jar and pour the alcohol over it. Close the jar and give your bitters a good shake.
Place your bitters in a cool dark place. Shake your bitters every day, or whenever you remember.
Sample the bitters every couple days. When the flavor is to your liking, strain the botanicals out of the alcohol using the cheesecloth. We let ours sit for about 10 days.
If using High ABV spirits:
Do not throw the spices away. Place the spices in 1 cup of water and bring to a boil for half an hour, or until the water changes color and becomes fragrant. Boil with the lid on, so the water won’t evaporate. Let the mixture cool. Strain the solids out of your water.
Mix the strained spirits with the strained water in a 1:1 ratio. This helps dilute the spirit to about 40-50% alcohol by volume, so you can focus on the flavors of the spices, not the alcohol.
If using Vodka, or other spirits with a lower alcohol content: You do not have to add water. Move on to the next step.
Using a funnel pour your bitters into a bottle with a shakeable lid. If you are not happy with the clarity of your bitters, you can strain it through the cheesecloth or a coffee filter a final time.
Store your bitters in a cool, dark place.
Musings of Grow and Make Owner Will Johnston
It seems there is a cultural shift, which recognizes the importance of a good nights sleep. There was a time when it was popular to say “l’ll sleep when I’m dead”. Now it’s pretty clear that lack of sleep makes us less effective and happy in our daily life. I’m a big fan of a good nights sleep.
If you’ve ever tasted home made yogurt, it’s amazing how much better it tastes than store bought. We have this updated article on making yogurt at home.
Lately I’ve been really enjoying Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here. It’s a very well made series depicting a comedy club in Los Angeles during the seventies. The writing is great and the acting is solid.
I’m writing this during the total eclipse of the sun from my front porch in Portland Oregon. It’s an eerie and strange confluence and must have been truly frightening for people who did not understand the source of it in earlier times. Fun to think it will be back in 7 years.
Today we’ve posted an updated version of our DIY Sewing Article: Make an apron at home by recycling a discarded skirt.
Here at Grow and Make we don’t usually comment on or make political statements, but these are exceptional times. So much so, that it seems we all have a responsibility to make clear where we stand and what we do not see as acceptable in terms of values. We do state our values as a business on this page: Company Values. We do not find it acceptable that parts of our government and our leader are enabling and encouraging extreme groups like the KKK, Nazi sympathizers and white supremist. We are taking a stand and do not want these groups business or their values associated with the country we live in and love.
I’ve been reading Sapiens and it is a truly great read. The author makes the story of human evolution fascinating through his excellent writing.
Bill Gates and President Obama both recommend it as a favorite read from the Summer.
If you have ever needed to mend a hole in your clothes, Part 3 in our Sewing Tips Series: Mending a Hole could prove useful.