My experimental nut liqueurs are finally ready for use! Just in time for the gorgeous sunny bank holiday too, what a treat.
After dutifully agitating the bottles every day for a month (well, it ended up being nearer 5 and a half weeks, but this should just allow the flavour to mature a bit more), I was ready to filter them. Remembering from last time that this takes forever, I decided to stage the filtering this time, so that I didn’t lose my patience!
Once the nuts have been sieved out, I ended up with a thick, opaque mixture that looked like this. I put the nuts to one side as they are fantastic to use in a variety of desserts and confections!Most of the tutorials I have read recommend filtering with coffee filters, but at this stage the liquid is still so full of hazelnut fragments that it is virtually impossible. This time I found some fine material to pass the liquid through a few times first, to eliminate a lot of the residue.Then, to save time of the filtering, I sat 3 or 4 coffee filters in a colander, so I could be filtering at a faster rate.
A word of warning: filtering takes absolutely AGES. It might take up to 3 or 4 hours for all the liquid to pass through the filters, especially nearer the start when there are still a lot of nut fibres in the mix. This obviously speeds up as the liquid becomes purer. Most of the tutorials recommend filtering the liquid at least 4 times, but really it’s all down to taste – you’ll know when it’s ready.
My finished hazelnut and almond liqueurs! The almond was a bit of a last-minute experiment but I’m really happy with it – in fact I am partaking of a little of it whilst writing this post! (hic)
I seem to have been luckier in the final quantities this time, which I think must have something to do with the changes I made to the filtering. As you might be able to see from the pictures, I began with 2.1 litres of vodka and was left with around 1.9 litres after removing the alcohol-infused nuts. After filtering 4 times, I’ve ended up with around 1.75 litres of finished liqueur, which is much more than the first time I tried this!
I think one of the differences in ending up with a larger output has something to do with how finely you chop the nuts before adding them to the bottles. The finer you chop the nuts, the less liqueur you seem to be left with, as the filtering has to remove more. Having said that, it’s a balancing act, as of course the liqueur only takes its flavour from the nuts, so you want there to be a high surface-area to liquid ratio. One way to affect this balance is also to leave the liqueur for longer than the alloted time, however I would guess that there will be a limit to this, where a longer time infusing has less effect, or perhaps begins to detriment the flavour – if anyone has experimented with this, I’d be interested to hear from you!
In the meantime, if you want me I’ll be chilling on the balcony in the sun with a good book and a glass of hazelnut liqueur with ice :)