Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Making Your Own Bitters


I have been having some really awesome computer problems this week so I apologize that my post yesterday didn't get up until after dinner time last night. I have been fighting with my old dell for a couple weeks now and eventually will be getting a new computer so it won't affect my blogging.

So today I have a really awesome recipe for you all. I knew the minute I started this blog I was going to be super interested in making my own bitters- with the huge craft cocktail movement there has been a surge in the usage of bitters in the restaurant industry. We also talked a little bit about the history of digestive bitters at the conference in Vegas, where I met Danielle. The history is super interesting and the tradition of using a bitter liqueur as a digestif or apéritif is still in practice today.

Bitters is traditionally an alcoholic beverage flavored with botanic materials that add complexity and bitterness to that alcohol. The use of bitters dates back to the Egyptians when they used to steep herbs in wine for medicinal purposes. The type of bitters that are used today date back to the Renaissance era. Many countries have a traditional type of  bitters that they used to pass around the table and drank before or after a meal to help induce digestion- it does this because the bitter flavor starts the production of HCL in the stomach which helps break down protein in the stomach and it also helps stimulate the salivary glands which produce amylase digest carbohydrates in your mouth. Bitters can also be used to calm the stomach in between meals- it is made with various aromatic plants that contain oils and flavors that help calm the stomach, some of these are orange, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and mint.

There are two main types of bitters. Digestive and aromatic. The aromatic versions were first used in the American colonies as an addition to cocktails. The first popular commercialized of this type was the angostura bitters which was created by a doctor in Venezuela. Digestive bitters are widely used in European and South American Countries. These are usually served over ice or neat- fernet, aperol, Pimms No. 1, and campari are just a few of the many different types.

I decided I would start easy and make a version of an American favorite, orange bitters. the flavor of which ranges from dryly aromatic to fruity, and is most commonly made from the rinds of Seville oranges and various spices.

First you will need to begin by gathering your ingredients. You will need:

1 jar 
1 bottle of ever clear, or a bottle of high proof vodka
The peels from 4 large oranges
1 tsp of fennel
1/2 tsp cardamom pods
1/2 tsp coriendar
15 drops of gentian extract (you can find this in the supplement isle of your local natural foods store)

                        Start off by peeling your oranges and adding the peels to your jar. 

                                                                       Add Spices

Fill your jar with the liquor of choice and add the drops of gentian

                        Put the cap on and or cork, set in a dark place and store for 14 days.
                                         Once the 14 days is up strain the liquor into
                                   brown or blue dropper bottles and store in the fridge.

This is a VERY simple and fun process. I will probably try some more complicated versions once summer decides to show itself and my herb garden matures. Please let me know if you have any questions!

Ps. If you would like more information on the health benefits of spicy herbs check out my post from yesterday!

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