Three Lemony Ways to Infuse Vodka

Infusing Vodka w/lemon & herbs

“When life gives you organic lemons, make infused vodka!”

Oh Baby!

It’s fast and it’s easy. Infused vodka makes killer martinis or takes a simple vodka tonic to a whole new level. In fact, the cocktail possibilities are endless! Here are three yummy combos that I’m making right now…

In The Photos:

The combos in the photo above (left to right) are:

Lemon Peel + Lemon Verbena

Lemon Peel + Pineapple Sage (red flowers)

Lemon Slices + Thyme (+ Simple Syrup after infusion)

I grow a lot of lemon verbena in my garden because it is one of my favorite herbs. But it is not easy to find unless your local farmer’s market happens to have it in late spring thru summer. If you are able to grow it in your area, do it. You won’t be sorry.

Vodka infused with lemon verbenaUsing Herbs…Or Not:

Below is my recipe for infusing vodka with lemons and fresh herbs from my spring garden. I use herbs subtly so they do not overpower the flavoring, but you can totally omit them if you wish.

Or even better – change up the herbs to create your own unique combination. Your choice. On my next round, I am going to do a lemon-ginger version. If you try that one, let me know how you like it.

Which herbs? Seriously, I do not think you can go wrong with any herb – even chives have their place in some infusions. But if I had to pick, I would say that my favorites are: lemon verbena, lemon thyme, salad burnet, rosemary, sage, lavender and mint.

Why Organic Only:

I highly recommend that you only use organic lemons for this project because we are using the peels. If the lemons have been heavily sprayed, you will be steeping those sprays into your vodka. Also, you want lemons that are unwaxed so that the lemon oils will be released. (Most conventionally grown lemons are waxed to give them more shelf life.)

Two Methods:

I typically infuse vodka two different ways and both work well. There is no right or wrong here – it is just a matter of choice.

Method One: Using only the peel of the lemon. This gives you a sharp essence of lemon flavor. It is more “lemoncello-like”.

Method Two: Using slices of the whole lemon. This gives you more of the sour lemon flavor and may need to be offset with some simple syrup to add sweetness. Some people prefer this method because the overall lemon flavor is stronger. The down side is that you may need to strain the mixture more than once to remove the bits of lemon pulp and get a clear liquid.

Ingredients & Equipment Needed:

  • Large, clean glass jars (canning or otherwise) with lids
  • A vegetable peeler or sharp knife
  • Organic lemons (1-2 per container)
  • Fresh Herbs (1-2 sprigs per container)
  • Good quality vodka (yes, quality matters in taste)
  • Coffee Filters or Cheesecloth for straining

I used 20 oz. sized Weck jars this time (sometimes called asparagus jars), but any large jar will work. You do not need exact measurements.

Method One:

  1. Wash and dry the lemons and herbs well. (Moisture on either can make your finished vodka cloudy).
  2. Carefully peel the rind off each lemon. Add the peel and your herb sprigs to your containers and fill to the top with vodka.
  3. Cover the jars with a lid and set aside (away from direct sunlight) for 1-2 weeks.
  4. Strain through cheesecloth and or coffee filters to achieve a clear liquid.
  5. Pour back into jars or other decorative bottle with a tight fitting lid. Use as you wish in cocktails.

Vodka infused with thymeMethod Two:

  1. Wash and dry the lemons and herbs well. (Moisture on either can make your finished vodka cloudy).
  2. Carefully slide your lemons into rounds. Place lemons and herb sprigs into your containers and fill to the top with vodka.
  3. Cover the jars with a lid and set aside (away from direct sunlight) for 1-2 weeks.
  4. Strain through cheesecloth and or coffee filters to achieve a clear liquid. You may have to strain twice.)
  5. Taste your vodka to see if you would like to sweeten it slightly?  Personally, I like to add ¼ cup of sugar syrup to a tall jar of infused vodka. But that is my personal taste. Use the recipe tomorrow to make and cool the sugar syrup. Then add it to your infused vodka.
  6. Pour finished vodka back into jars or other decorative bottle with a tight fitting lid. Use as you wish in cocktails.

Simple Sugar Syrup:

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water and bring to a simmer. Stir until sugar dissolves (about 1 minute). Remove from heat and cool completely before adding to your infusion. Usually only a few Tablespoons to 1/4 cup of syrup is all that is needed to a large bottle of infused vodka.

Another version (if you REALLY want to bump up the lemon flavor) is to make a lemon verbena syrup to sweeten the infusion. One of my favorite things in the world. Mmmm.

 

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About the Author

Theresa Loe is the Co-Executive TV Producer and the On-Air Canning/Homesteading Expert for the national PBS gardening TV series, Growing A Greener World. She is a lifetime canner and a graduate of the Master Food Preserver Program. She studied both sustainable horticulture and professional culinary arts and she is a wrangler of chickens and two teenage children. (Not necessarily in that order.)

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • theresa May 3, 2014 at 5:34 am

    Howdy everyone-

    I was having a problem with my blog comments and all the comments on this post were lost. So, so sorry!

    It is fixed now. So if you comment again, it should work fine.

    ~Theresa

    Reply edit
  • Jon May 8, 2014 at 10:47 am

    I was wondering if you have had any experience in using the plant Stevia instead of simple syrup as an infusion. I am growing it this year for the first time. It taste incredible sweet eaten raw.
    thanks

    Reply edit
    • theresa May 10, 2014 at 5:26 am

      Hi Jon,

      That is a GREAT question. I have not used stevia in this way or made a syrup with it. But I do grow it also and have used it for years to sweeten my drinks. I absolutely think you can use it as an infusion. Give it a try! I just don’t know how much it would take to get the sweetness you want.

      I would gently crush the plant leaves before adding to help release the sweet juices. And I would guess you can soak them and taste it every few days until you get the sweetness you like.

      Let me know how it goes. This is a great idea!

      Reply edit

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