Monday, April 2, 2012

Elixers and Liquers Playshop at Edible Alchemy

This past weekend I taught a playshop at Edible Alchemy on making custom liqueurs at home. The class went incredibly well. I learned a great deal from the process, both in terms of teaching and about food. I learned that peach and black pepper go shockingly well together. I learned that sometimes the person with the least previous knowledge on a subject has the most to teach you because they can approach a topic without pre-conceptions.

The other thing I discovered while doing research for the class is that there is very little information available on making custom infusions and liqueurs at home. There are several sites that have recipes for simple single ingredient infusion based liqueurs. There are a few recipes out there designed to re-create Drambuie, or Kaluha. However, finding recipes based on innovative flavor combinations, or posted information on how to go about innovating in this field on your own is very limited. Given how many people take part in the much more complicated process of home brewing beer and wines I have to say I was very surprised at the lack of comprehensive information on the topic.

Home brewing liqueurs is very simple and incredibly rewarding. Purchasing decent sweet infusions in a liquor store can be an incredibly expensive endeavor, and while it is unlikely that you will be able to make a perfect Dissarono at home, or recreate Chartreuse, there is a lot of leeway to make unique fruit infusions from the bounty of your home garden. It is also incredibly easy to make liquors out of ingredients that aren't commonly utilized in the commercial liquor industry like fresh ginger, or cacao nib. The zest these creations can give to a dessert, or a custom drink (basil liqueur gin martini with a lemon zest garnish. Just saying) gives you the ability to connect with your beverages and make a more personal investment in the drinks you provide your guests at your next party.

While I am primarily concerned with this as a culinary obsessive this does very easily lend itself to pagan pursuits. While we often provide wine as an offering in ritual there is something to be said for having an offering of an infusion that started in the live giving cradle of your garden, and you infused for a lunar month, and then carefully aged over the next lunar month before bringing to your ritual. These skills lie us to what we consume, and therefore tie us to the land and more.

My partner has been studying alchemy, and over the past several months began practicing with some of the distillation and refinement of alcohol and more complex reagent creation methods. For the truly invested practitioner one could brew their own wine, then distill it into a strong slightly fruity spirit working with energy intentionally at every step of the process. Then when they had enough refined alcohol they could pull the infusion from their garden and begin the elixir process before carefully blending their work for offering in a ritual. While this process is certainly more involved than any witch I know would probably invest in such acts empower our workings, and our sense of connection to what we do.

I am hoping to do more work in this vein, and I will be teaching another class at Edible Alchemy on May 19th. The focus is entirely culinary, for now my pagan musings remain here but I would encourage anyone interested to attend. I am going to try to make quite a few more infusions than I had at this last class and I had quite a bit with me for the most recent class. I am also thinking about starting to put my work together and post it online. It should be exciting.

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