Saturday, September 6, 2008

nasturtium bitters

After remembering the nasturtium-infused gin we made last year, I decided to craft some cocktail bitters around this peppery tasting flower that grows around the border of our vegetable garden as well as elsewhere in our yard.
I used botanical to alcohol and water ratios from various recipes I found (and there is great variation through out the recipes) and chose my first recipe. Version 1 was similar to the recipe below and started out with a very good nasturtium and orange aroma during days 1-2. By days 4-5, it was way too bitter when used in a 3:1 Plymouth gin:Noilly Prat martini; in fact, it was horribly bitter. I ended up having to dump that batch and to scrap the milk thistle and cut back wormwood 5 fold. The experience taught me to pilot lot new recipes in the small scale -- such as the Celery Bitters that are ongoing which started as 6 jars of 1 oz size.
The recipe that I ended up going with and bottling:
Yarm's Nasturtium Bitters
• 12 oz Bacardi 151 rum
• 4 oz water
• 45 grams nasturtium flowers (wet weight)
• 10 grams dried orange peel
• 8 grams cardamom pods (sliced open)
• 7.5 grams cinnamon stick
• 5 grams gentian
• 1 gram wormwood
• 2 grams star anise
Let steep for 14 days.
• 12 oz water
• 30 grams nasturtium flowers (wet weight)
Muddle the flowers in a separate jar and store in fridge overnight.
Filter the alcohol portion through a coffee filter.
Wash the botanicals with the nasturtium water, and filter this wash. Combine with alcohol filtrate.
The recipe does not reflect that I added some of the botanicals after sampling them at day 4. I doubled the cinnamon and cardamom, added the star anise, upped the gentian from 1 to 5 grams, and added the 4 oz of water to keep the herbs submerged. One difference was between the first and second batches of bitters, it rained a lot and the flavor quality of the nasturtiums changed. The first were rather sharp and peppery, and the second were more tea-like akin to a rooibos which might be why I added the second round of botanicals.

My favorite recipe with them so far is:
Rum Old Fashioned
• 1 1/2 oz Medium-bodied rum (Ron Zacapa 15 year)
• 1/4 oz Gomme (or simple) syrup
• 2-3 dashes of Nasturtium bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass.

August 2010 post-script: I remade the bitters this year. It was a less rainy season this year, so the flowers had more flavor and aroma. I, therefore, scrapped the 12 ounces of muddle flower water and swapped in 6 ounces of water. I used a new batch of cinnamon that made this note more prominent; surprisingly, the cardamom (same batch) seems more dominant. Perhaps it was the muddling of the cardamom pods that helped.

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