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How to make flavor-infused vodka

Diana De Cicco is a food editor and writer based in New York City. She has a master's degree from New York University in Food Studies. Her passions are eating, traveling, and eating while traveling.

Homemade flavored vodkas

Flavored vodkas are hot - as evidenced by the ever-growing marketplace selection ranging from ordinary vanilla or citrus vodka to the whimsical vodkas infused with chocolate or root beer. Because of their popularity, quality flavored vodkas don't come cheap. But you can frugally add your own signature flavor to plain vodka by making infused vodkas at home. Here's how.

Infused vodka

How to make flavored vodkas

Making flavored vodkas at home gives you the creative freedom to infuse your vodka with herbs, spices, fruits and even vegetables. All you need is a good bottle of plain vodka, a strainer, a large clear jar, and your flavorful ingredient of choice. It's a simple and fun culinary feat and it will save you some cash in the process.

1Use good vodka

Picking the vodka to start with is by far the most important part of the process. You want to use a good quality vodka, because no matter how much you flavor it, if the base isn't good, the result won't be good.

2Use fresh ingredients

For best results, make sure the flavor components you use are as fresh as possible. Frozen fruit isn't a great option because it will break down and just get soggy in the vodka. Fresh herbs and spices and whole fruit and vegetables are best.

3Be original

Get creative with the flavors, pretty much any fruit, vegetable, herb or spice can be used or if you want to be really original, try mixing a few flavors together. Peppers and horseradish are also a great choice for infused vodkas, but start sparingly so you don't end up with too much spicy fire in your vodka.

4Prep your ingredients

If you are using fruit or vegetables, cut them up in large cubes or slices. In some cases, the skin should stay on, like citrus (because the peel is bursting with flavorful oils), but other fruits such as melons should have their skin removed. A good rule is: Any skin that is not edible (other than citrus) should be peeled. Also, remove any pits and seeds. If you are using herbs or spices such as cinnamon, lavender or rosemary, add them to the vodka whole. Everything will be strained before drinking, so if a few pieces go astray, no need to panic.

5Combine flavors

Add fruit, vegetables or herbs to a large glass jar. If possible, use one with a spigot or a large lid to ladle vodka out. And keep in mind that the more flavor you add, the stronger it will be in the vodka. A good rule of thumb is to fill the jar about halfway full with fruit or vegetables and then fill it to the top with vodka. If using herbs or spices, use a good handful, because they are stronger and will emit more flavor than fruit or vegetables. Pour the vodka into the jar and cover it with a lid.

6Wait

Place the jar in the refrigerator and play the waiting game. Most likely, the infusion will take at least one day. Some fruits and vegetables will take longer. Simply taste the vodka every day to determine your strength level. It can take up to one week to get the flavor you want. Remember, you can always add more flavor but you can't take it away.

7Strain

When the desired flavor is reached, pour the vodka through a fine-meshed strainer into a large bowl to remove as much of the pulp and bits as possible. If needed, layer strainer with cheesecloth or coffee filters. Pour vodka back into its original bottle or into the jar used to infuse – this will ensure that your newly infused vodka is easily pourable.

8Serve

One of the best parts of infusing your own vodka, is that it lends itself to using plenty of delicious garnishes. Fruit and vegetables can be garnished on the side of a cocktail glass. Herbs and spices can be used as stirrers in cocktails. Drink up and enjoy!

Up next: Recipes for flavored vodkas >>

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