Photos: Enrique Gili
Have you ever wanted to pour the taste of fall into a bottle? Pumpkin season peaks around Halloween and wanes by the time Thanksgiving guests leave town. But during that brief period, consumers are bombarded with pumpkins, along with the all things pumpkin spice related, including cookies, lattes and pies.
For those of us whose tastes veer towards stronger stuff, the great pumpkin onslaught can seem a bit lacking. Once you've tired of consuming the sweet option, vodka is the answer. And while it's true that pumpkin liquor can be purchased in many a market, the seasonal liquor usually lacks finesse. The amber booze tends to be a clumsy attempt at making a liquid version of pumpkin pie, laden with sugar and pumped with way too much spice and additives, obliterating the earthy notes of the whole point of the exercise: pumpkin.
In this recipe, the extra effort required to infuse vodka with pumpkin is time well-spent. The additional step of roasting pumpkin cubes and adding a mix of whole spices, instead of using puree, makes the filtering process a breeze. Patience does the rest, since DIY pumpkin liquor only gets better with time.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour plus 6 weeks
Yields: About 1 quart
Spiced Pumpkin Liquor
Equipment you'll need
- 1 1-quart wide-mouthed jar
- 1 6-cup wide-mouthed jar
- 1 plastic funnel
- Cheese cloth or unbleached coffee filter
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 cinnamon sticks, cracked
- 6 whole allspice
- 6 whole cloves
- 3 inches fresh ginger, halved
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- 2 to 3 lb. organic sugar pumpkin, cubed
- 4 cups mid-priced vodka
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, optional
- 2 tablespoons bourbon, optional
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- To make syrup, bring water to boil in heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add sugar. Stir and reduce heat. Add vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, clove, ginger and nutmeg. Stir and remove from heat. Allow syrup to cool, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prep the pumpkin. Scrub and place on cutting board or counter lined with newspaper. Using a sharp chef's knife remove stem, then cut pumpkin in half. Scoop out seeds and scrape pumpkin flesh to remove pulp and any seeds that remain. Reserve seeds for other food and garden projects. Cut pumpkin into 1-inch cubes.
- Place cubed pumpkin on baking sheet. Cook until tender about 40 minutes. Remove from oven to cool.
- Toss cubed pumpkin into the 1-quart jar. Pour vodka over cubes. Add 1 cup syrup. Seal and gently shake contents. Refrigerate for up to 1 week, shaking daily. At week's end, add maple syrup to sweeten and bourbon to taste, if needed.
- Strain contents through funnel lined with cheesecloth into a 6-cup jar or decanter. Seal and store in a cool dark place for up five to six weeks. Shake periodically. Strain contents into a clean bottle. Age liquor up for up to one year to drink neat or to pour over dessert.
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