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Equipment for Making Liquors

Standard Equipment

 

One needs very little equipment for making liquors, and most or all of this is available in the average kitchen. For most recipes (see the liquor section of French Recipes), one needs only:

  • Measuring cup (to measure the amount of liquids, depending on the recipe)

  • Knife and cutting board (for recipes that have ingredients to be cut up)

  • One or more glass containers for the liquor to mature in

  • A common kitchen strainer (preferably small) to filter the matured liquor before bottling.

  • Cloth or cotton for filtering (see tip 2 at Liquors: Top Tips).

  • Final bottles and stoppers

 

Most of this will be found in any kitchen. So the following will consider the less common items.

 

Glass Container

 

The first item is the glass container for the liquor to mature in. Most liquor recipes require that the ingredients be stored in a glass container and left for some weeks or months to mature. In particular, recipes based on fruit require this time for the flavour to become infused into the alcohol. Any clean air-tight glass container of the appropriate size will do. We find that there are two types which are most useful:

  • If you are making a small amount of a liquor, a relatively small glass container of 1 or 2 liters (1 or 2 quarts) is ideal. It so happens that we eat a lot of pickles and our favourite pickles come in 1.5 litre jars. So (after eating the pickles) we thoroughly wash out the jar and lid and use that. I mention this to illustrate that you don't need anything special and don't need to spend money on glass containers. If you do home-made jam or marmalade, these jars are also very good. The key requirements are that the jar is clean, glass and has an air-tight seal.

  • For larger quantities of liquor (typically wine based) a larger container of 10, 15 or 20 liters (10, 15 or 20 quarts) is more suitable. One can usually get one of these for 15 or 20 euros (15 or 20 dollars or pounds) as a store selling wine-making equipment. These can be purchased either with a small mouth or a large mouth. I find that the ones with a wide mouth are more practical for recipes that have coarse-cut ingredients (e.g. quarters of an orange) as it is easier to add and remove ingredients and also easier to clean afterwards(one can fit a hand with a dish pad into the bottle).

 

When adding the liquor to the glass container, one should try to ensure that there is not a large volume of air, as this results in the liquor being of inferior quality (due to oxidation). Therefore, if your glass container is too large, either use a smaller container or increase the quantity of ingredients. For example, if the recipe has one litre of ingredients and you have a 1.5 litre glass, either multiply all the ingredients by 1.5 so that it will fill the glass, or find a smaller glass.

 

Cotton Pads

 

After maturing the liquor, most recipes require that it be filtered prior to final bottling. As described in Liquors: Top Tips, cotton pads are best for this. They can be purchased in most pharmacies (or chemists, as they are know in the UK), and in many of the larger general stores.

 

Final Bottles and Stoppers

 

After maturing the liquor, one normally puts it into bottles for storage (or, depending on the recipe, additional maturation). Any air-tight glass bottle will do for this purpose. I personally prefer to use half-bottles (375 ml bottles, know as half-bottles as they are half the standard size for a wine bottle) and reusable cork stoppers. Both can be found in most wine equipment stores. The reason I prefer these include:

  • A nicely-shaped half-bottle, especially if it has an attractive label, makes a very nice present. As one should emphasize the quality and effort of a home-made liquor, I believe that a smaller bottle conveys this message better than a large one. Also, it means that one can get about 3 presents out of a single liter of liquor.

  • Liquors are normally drunk slowly and in small quantities. Thus, while one may finish off a standard bottle of wine in an evening, it may take weeks to finish off a bottle of liquor. Consequently, a smaller bottle (half-bottle) is more suitable.

  • For much the same reason, a re-useable cork is practical as one can simply twist it out and when finished pouring the drinks push it back in.

 
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