Natural Fruit Vodkas

“I went out with a guy who once told me I didn’t need to drink to make myself more fun to be around. I told him, I’m drinking so that you’re more fun to be around.” 
― Chelsea HandlerAre You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

I have been making my my own fruit vodkas for years. As the spring and summer approaches I make whatever fruit comes into season and then leave the fruit steeping in the vodka until at least Christmas. It makes a great gift and you always have something special on hand if someone stops by for a cocktail. I have made some that I have left for as long as 1 year and they are all good. You can make so many different kinds. They are better than the store bought variety because they are made with two things fruit and vodka, not full of artificial flavours. I try to make something new every year. Last fall my neighbour Shelley gave me a huge box of apples she brought from the Okanagan Valley. Her son said “why don’t you make some apple vodka?” and I thought…..why not. It was the breakout hit of the year!! I love to serve it like a liqueur in a shot glass with a couple of the same fresh fruit in the glass. I put a few fresh raspberries in the glass then pour over the raspberry vodka. This is fantastic with raspberry/blueberry and the pomegranate is really fun. It gives you a pop of fresh flavour at the end. You can also use them in your favorite martinis.

I have made:

  • pomegranate- put seeds in jar (this is made in Nov/Dec when in season)
  • apple 
  • blueberry
  • raspberry
  • strawberry
  • blueberry/raspberry
  • blueberry/ strawberry
  • blueberry/strawberry/raspberry
  • orange/vanilla/coffee- you stick coffee beans in slits cut in the oranges and add a fresh vanilla bean
  • clementine- peel them and stick them in the jar whole
  • lemoncello
They are really so easy to make.
You will need:
  • vodka (lots!) I start a pot with one bottle, then add more fruit and vodka as the pay checks get deposited. That way you don’t feel the pinch all at once. They also don’t look at you like you are a complete drunk at the liquor store.
  • fruit (lots) when something is in season go to a farm and buy a flat of fruit
  • a large container with a lid that will seal the fruit and vodka mix.
  • strainers/ coffee filters once completed- some fruit has sediment on bottom and needs to be poured through a coffee filter or several to make it clear.
Step 1: gather your fruit, your vodka and a clean glass jar with a lid. If you can use organic especially with something like apples which are typically a fruit on the “dirty dozen” list of fruit that is high in pesticides do it.
Step 2: wash and core apples. I use a melon baler. I then remove stems and chop into quarters. I do not peel the apples because the skins give the vodka a nice amber colour. Put in as many pieces of apple as you can fit into the jar.
Step 3: fill jar with vodka.
Step 4: seal jar and leave in a dark place for at least 2 months. If you have soft fruit like raspberries or strawberries I would leave it for at least 6 months – 1 year. This works perfectly if you start the vodka in the Spring when Strawberries are ripe then keep it until Christmas when you would serve it. You can make apple vodka at any time because they are available year round but, normally you need lots of fruit so you buy it when its at it’s best and also cheapest.
This is after about 1 month-you see the fruit at the top of the jar is starting to get brown but the bottom is not yet. 
After approx 2 months or when all the apples are brown. I strain out the fruit (make sure you put a bowl under that strainer-you don’t want to let your precious hooch go down the drain!) and disgard.
I then fill with another bag of apples and return the vodka to the jar and leave it another 2 months and strain.The apple vodka needs to be strained through coffee filters a few times to make it clear. The apple vodka is very smooth and similar in taste to Ice cider (not the hard cider you buy like a cooler) this is like “Neiges”- which is an iced cider made in Quebec and very similar  to Ice wine where they pick the fruit after the first hard frost and it is sweet and concentrated. (Neiges is a gorgeous product if you haveb’t tried it it is excellent!)
This was my collection from last Christmas. I like to save my favourite Prosecco bottles that have great resealable lids for my moonshine! I also buy small vinegar bottles from the Dollar Store for gift bottles, they come with a nice little spout and they cost a buck! I try to pretty them up with labels and ribbons etc…

They are great served in a shot glass with the fresh fruit and really are like a liqueur or you can add them to a drink like a martini. They are so much nicer than the artificial flavoured vodkas in the store.

Drink it cold.

Make a lovely Martini like the Apple Martini or the Raspberry Martini shown here. Go to my other post called Raspberry and Apple Martinis for the exact recipe.

Homemade Vanilla Extracts

It’s easy to make your own Vanilla.

This is my vanilla whiskey, vanilla rum & my vanilla extract in vodka.
In 2010 I went on a tour of a Vanilla Pantation In Hawaii. The Hawaiian Vanilla Company is a family run business located on the  Hamakua Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. If you ever get the chance to visit and stay for a tour and lunch you will not be disappointed.

Did you know that the vanilla pod is grown on an orchid? It takes 7 years to produce its first pod after propagation  and the orchid blooms only one day per year for a few hours. Once they bloom they are hand pollinated.  If they are sucessful at pollination a vanilla pod will take 8-9 months to mature.  That is why real vanilla is so expensive

 Artificial vanilla extract is not even made from vanilla. It is made from a constituent of wood. If you plan on baking or using vanilla invest in some real vanilla or make it yourself!

This is a photo of a bundle of vanilla beans which they passed around for people to see. The aroma was utterly intoxicating. This bundle of vanilla beans would cost you over $1000.00 US (in 2010!)
They showed us how to make our own vanilla by splitting vanilla beans and then placing the vanilla beans in a bottle of vodka. If you want to start small then buy a small bottle of vodka & simply split a few beans and stick into the bottle. Leave it for a few months and up to years. I buy my vanilla beans from Costco because they come in a large quantity at a good price for this purpose. If you want the very best quality you can order on line from the Hawaiian vanilla Company at I bought a few coveted beans when I was there that I used in baking .
You can also use this same method to make Vanilla Rum or Vanilla Bourbon or whatever you would like.
I have made Vanilla Vodka (which is the equivalent of the store vanilla Extract) I used a bottle from a lemonade. This bottle has a good resealable lid. I used a full bottle of vodka and maybe 12 split beans to start. I have had this bottle going since 2010 & as I use it I add more beans & more vodka. It can last for years.I store it in my pantry.
I made a vanilla rum with the small bottles you can purchase and started with a few beans & have kept adding to top off as it gets used. This rum extract is so nice when you are making sweetened whipping cream for something nice like a Key Lime Pie!
I made the Jack Daniels vanilla with a small bottle and a few split beans and this extract is wonderful on a whipped cream that would go nicely on a beautiful  Pecan Pie.
If you want to make a Vanilla Flavoured Vodka to drink or mix in cocktails then add a few whole beans (do not split them) to a bottle of vodka & leave it for a few weeks until it tastes as strong as you like, then remove the beans. If you split the beans it will make the vodka dark like my bottle on the right. If you want the vodka to stay more clear leaving the beans whole will impart some flavour but not so much that it turns to extract. When you remove the pods do not throw them away. You can add them to your bottle of extract or split them and add to a jar of sugar to make homemade vanilla sugar.
I always have a jar of vanilla sugar in my pantry. If you use a vanilla bean in a recipe like making a vanilla custard do not discard the used pod. Wipe off/rinse any residue and dry out then toss into the sugar . Keep topping off and adding beans to keep it going. This is so much nicer and cheaper than buying vanilla sugar in those little packages.