Citrus-Infused Vodka

Citrus in jar with vodkaI adapted this creation from Marcus Samuelsson’s recipe for Aquavit for holiday gift-giving several years ago but never got around to posting it.  The recipe was such a hit and so amazingly delicious, it would have been a shame to keep this under wraps any longer. 

I never attempted to recreate Samuelsson’s original recipe, so I don’t know exactly how my infusion differs from his.  All I know is that my version is dangerously good!

Samuelsson has a great thing going with his Aquavit, but I made it a bit easier for you.  Fresh mandarin oranges, kumquats, and kaffir lime leaves aren’t always readily available–at least in the Northeast United States–so I did some ingredient swapping.  I used clementines instead of mandarin oranges, but navel oranges and tangerines work too.  Instead of kumquats, I substituted the flesh of lime to get that tangy/sweet flavor.  Lime peel (just green part, no pith!) took the place of kaffir lime leaves.  Another tip: You don’t need to go with expensive vodka, as the infusion flavor is so strong, but do choose a decent potato-based one.  

citrus in jarsAlthough this recipe takes very little time to prepare, it does take planning…the infusion won’t be ready for a week or two (give it a taste after 1 week to see how it’s developing).

Before you run out to collect your citrus, make sure you have a very large glass jar or two, whatever can hold around 3 quarts (or 12 cups) of liquid.  I had to use two jars.  Make sure they are thoroughly sanitized.  That goes for the citrus too.  Don’t store the jars in the kitchen or other areas that get too warm.  I used a nice cool corner of my closet to store the jars.

The resulting liquid will be a vibrant yellow and looks striking in a glass bottle. If you plan on gifting this tasty spirit, find some nice bottles you can sterilize. I’ve used apple cider vinegar bottles, 1800 Tequila bottles, maple syrup bottles…so many options. You can also return the infusion to the vodka bottle for serving at home.

Recipe for Citrus-Infused Vodka

For syrup

  • ½ cup filtered water
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced – Using the edge of a spoon is a simple way to peel the ginger and wastes less than using a knife.
  • ¼ cup sugar (turbinado, sucanat, or whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 small limes (or 1 large lime), peel only – You want the green part of the peel only.  A peeler provides more control and you get larger, easier-to-strain pieces than if you use a grater or microplane.

For citrus infusion

  • 2 limes, cut into 6-8 wedges
  • ½ of small lime (or ¼ of large lime) flesh only, cut into 4 pieces – Remove remaining peel and white pith from lime used in syrup recipe above.  Use any remaining lime to squeeze in the water you’re drinking…You ARE drinking water, right? 🙂
  • 1 pink grapefruit, cut in half and then sliced to ¼-inch thickness
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced to ¼-inch thickness
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced to ¼-inch thickness
  • 2 clementine oranges (or tangerines or navel orange or mixture), peeled and divided into sections
  • 1 liter potato-based vodka

Combine water, ginger, sugar, and lime peel in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove syrup from heat and let cool.  Drop fruit into clean 3-quart glass jar.  Add syrup and vodka.  If using two jars, divvy up fruit, syrup, and vodka between them.  Screw top on jar and let sit at room temperature (or cooler) for 1 to 2 weeks.  Pour infusion through mesh strainer into different container to separate fruit from liquid.  Discard solids.  Pour infused vodka back into original bottle using funnel.

Gift Wrapping Ideas that Wow

You’ve got the gifts.  Now…how to wrap them?  In wrapping paper that makes all your gifts look like clones?  Or in materials you’ve got lying around your house that will turn them into unique, special, gifts-within-gifts?  I really hope you said the latter, otherwise this post is pretty useless!

There are so many upsides to bypassing the paper for dressing your gifts:

  • You don’t have to waste money on expensive wrapping paper or endure wrapping paper of the cookie cutter sort.
  • You’re recycling!
  • You have the opportunity to display your craftiness and the recipient’s personality.
  • Your gifts turn out unique and (hopefully) lovely.
  • It’s fun!

The only “downside” is that this sort of wrapping takes some resourcefulness and perhaps a bit more time to acquire the materials.  What? Doesn’t everyone save all the bits of prettiness they come across throughout the year?! 😉

Ideas for Wrapping Gifts

  1. Shoes/boots (in the box):
Curtain fabric gathered on all sides and tied into a bow.

Fabric (from a curtain) gathered on all sides and tied into a bow.

Gray fabric wrapping side

Side view. Used velvet bow to glue around side of box to block out print showing through and keep fabric in place.

2.  Wallet or clutch:

Red fabric wrapping

Fabric folded like paper wrapping using glue gun. Bow added for flair and snugness.

3.  Jewelry (in boxes):

Silver wrapping duo

Small mailing boxes covered with scraps of clothing (from another era obviously!). Top: Extra fabric on each side tied with ribbon. Stars from broken decorations.  Bottom: Box centered on fabric and knotted at top.  Ribbon wrapped around several times and secured with hot glue.

4.  Clothing, option #1:

Pillowcase wrapping

Decorative pillowcase. Gift tucked in corner, folded in half to close, and extra fabric folded in on sides to show trim and inside color. Secured with glue gun and ribbon.

5.  Clothing, option #2:

Mailing tube covered with pages of old art calendar, trimmed to fit and glued.

Back view.

Back view.

6.  Clothing, option #3

Two pieces of fabric hot-glued together on three sides. Gift slid in pocket. Extra fabric on top folded over in front. Fasten with tape or very carefully with glue. Flower added to cover fastening point. Should have ironed fabric!

Two pieces of fabric hot-glued together on three sides. Shirt slid into pocket. Extra fabric on top folded over in front. Glue applied very carefully to center of flap to fasten. Flower added to cover fastening point and decorative effect. Should have ironed fabric!

7.  Clothing, option #4

Use a gift box as a palette for all those cute/beautiful holiday cards you receive! Fronts of cards cut to size if necessary and glued to box. Bare area decorated with silver pen. Box kept closed with elastic band with bow.

8.  Purses or bags:

Fabric option easily solves how to wrap oddly shaped gifts like bags. Left: Fabric tied into place in several spots. Right: Fabric folded over in back and edges glued into place (carefully!).

P.S.  There is a use for paper wrapping if you have some lying around…gift tags!  Cut off a square or rectangular piece, fold in half, and punch a hole near the top corner or on the folded side.  Write your message inside and tie to gift with bit of string or ribbon.

For more ideas, here’s another of my posts on fabric gift wrapping.

Well…That’s a wrap!

Happy Holidays!