Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Make Your Own Krupnikas

Bob and Pat were in town recently, mainly to attend the South Bay Writers Workshop's annual Summer Solstice potluck picnic.  Bob managed to also squeeze in afternoon sailing, a huge passion in his life.  The guy whose boat he was on is originally from Lithuania or Poland and he makes bottles of "Krupnikas" for himself and friends.  Bob said they already had 5 bottles of it and gave us the one he'd been given. 

When I Googled this strange word, I really didn't expect anything to come up.  Imagine my surprise -- it is a honey-based liquer known in Eastern Europe as a great cold medicine!  One is free to drink it, however, with or without a cold.   It does not taste like any cold medicine I've ever had. 

This grain alcohol drink is credited to an order of 16th century Benedictine monks.  Based on the fact that the Benedictines are credited with champagne, Benedictine and now krupnikas, I think I want to join up. 

I printed out the first recipe I came across and here it is.  Bootleggers, to your stills!

Krupnikas - makes 1 1/2 quarts

10 cardamon seeds, cracked
1/2 nutmeg seed
2 teas. caraway seed
10 whole cloves
10 whole alspice berries
4 3-in. cinnamon sticks
2 teas. whole peppercorns
1 pinch crushed saffron threads (optional)
2 1-in. pieces fresh ginger root
2 1-in. pieces fresh tumeric (yellow ginger)
3 large strips of orange zest
3 large strips of lemon zest
4 cups water
1 T vanilla extract
2 lbs. honey
1 qt. 190 proof grain alcohol 

Crack the cardamom and nutmeg and toss them into a saucepan with all the rest of the spices.  Pour in the water and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.  Strain out the spices and set this liquid aside.

Pour the honey into a large pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat..  Then stir in the spice liquid and remove from the heat.  "Place far from the stove to avoid any flare-ups from the grain alcohol."  (I'd take this step to the bathroom and do it in the tub - stronger walls...)

Stir in the grain alcohol, then put the whole thing back on a LOW burner and cover it.  Heat thoroughly,, BUT DO NOT LET IT SIMMER OR BOIL.  Turn off the heat and leave it to its own devices for the rest of the day and through the night. 

Next day, decant it into sterile bottles, cap them and allow it to settle for two weeks.

The longer you let it sit, the clearer it will become. 

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