Monday, 27 September 2010

Star anise schnapps

A bottle of vodka and several green, unripe walnuts on a table in a garden

The picture above is rather misleading. Last summer, my colleague Martyn gave me half a dozen unripe walnuts from his tree, to make schnapps with. I steeped them in vodka for five months, according to this recipe, and left the liquid to mature for seven months. Just as the schapps should have been ready to enjoy, I moved house and the jar was spilled in the process.

Martyn gave me some more walnuts this year, the ones shown above. Unfortunately, it was too late in the year and they had already formed their woody shells. I cast about the kitchen for something to schnappsify, and found a bag of star anise. Here's a recipe for star anise schnapps from the same site.

This recipe had the advantage that it was a lot quicker to mature. (Being absent-minded, I still left the star anise in for a few days longer than recommended.) A week later, I served it to some friends as a digestif: seen below are Jenny, David and Dave.

The schnapps had a beautiful amber colour and a strong flavour of aniseed, with delicate undertones -- more complex than, for example, sambuca. The next time I make it, I'll probably leave the pods in for the same length of time and dilute it slightly with more vodka. I also want to try turning it into a liqueur and experimenting with the rest of the spice cupboard

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