Recipes, Drinks & Cocktails

DIY Rapid Orange Bitters You Can Make at Home

Making your own bitters takes under an hour with an iSi whipper. These Rapid Orange Bitters, bursting with fresh orange zest, make the best-ever gift or the most impressive ingredient in your arsenal. 

If you read my recipe for Jalapeño Infused Tequila, you know that I'm obsessed with cocktail pioneer Dave Arnold's technique for rapid infusions with the iSi cream whipper. No, it has nothing to do with whipped cream, or even foam (the other culinary trend these whippers are responsible for). With Arnold's method, outlined in his wonderful Liquid Intelligence (and in the Rapid Infusion 5-Piece Tool Kit manual) you can infuse liquids with flavor in minutes, not weeks. Pretty cool, right? 

First, some basics on the science of what's going on here and why it works (skip this part if you're just like tell me how to do this already!). Nitrous oxide, the gas in iSi cartridges usually used to whip cream or foam liquids, can also be used to to infuse them. In rapid infusion, nitrous dissolves into the liquid and forces it into a solid (your fresh ingredient!) under pressure. After it spends some time (again, minutes, not weeks) inside that solid, you release the pressure and the nitrous bubbles out, forcing the flavor of the solid into the liquid as it goes. 

If that sounded too technical and you're thinking, "No thank you, I'll just do things the traditional way," just keep in mind that the instantaneous-satisfaction-factor of these infusions is not their only benefit. Rapid infusion doesn't capture as many of the bitter, tannic, or spicy components that traditional infusions do, making it possible to make very flavorful infusions out of ingredients that would typically be too bitter or spicy in high amounts. 

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Now, some of these ingredients will be hard to track down (I have a great herb and spice shop in Portland that carries them all, but you can order them easily on the internet as well) and you'll need a scale to measure them (get one and never look back, they're cheap and will change your baking forever). But a small batch will last you a very long time, and improve any cocktail you make them with. Because they're such a unique, thoughtful ingredient, they make a great gift as well.

These bitters can replace traditional orange bitters in any recipe, but I especially love to serve them two ways -- in a classic Martini and in a Bitter Orange Soda, which I find to be the best expression of the bitters aside from ingesting them straight from the bottle (which is incredibly, overpoweringly bitter, and not a good way to experience the full range of flavors). 

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For the Bitter Orange Soda, just top 1 full ounce of the bitters with about 5 ounces of soda water to taste (the soda water should be as cold as you can possibly get it and your glass should be chilled to cut down on foaming and to retain carbonation longer). A warning -- this soda will be very, very bitter and dry. I find it refreshing that way as a bracing aperitif, but don't be afraid to add an ounce of simple syrup if it's just too bitter for you.

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Rapid Orange Bitters

theinspiredhome.com
INGREDIENTS

350 ml Vodka
25 g fresh orange peel (no pith, orange only)
25 g dried orange peel (Sevilles preferred)
25 g dried lemon peel
25 g dried grapefruit peel
0.2 g whole cloves
2.5 g green cardamom seeds removed from pod
2 g caraway seeds
2.5 g quassia bark
5 g dried gentian root

DIRECTIONS

(1) Add all ingredients except the vodka and fresh orange peel to a blender or spice mill and blend or grind until all are the size of small peppercorns. 

(2) Put the spice mixture, vodka and fresh orange peel into a 0.5 L iSi Gourmet Whip. Attach the Rapid Infusion accessories to the iSi Gourmet Whip as per instructions. 

(3) Screw on 1 iSi Cream Charger as per instructions and shake. Then place the iSi Whipper in very hot water (max. 165 F, I use my sous vide for this) for 20 minutes. Immediately cool in ice water for 5 minutes, then quickly vent the iSi Whipper by pressing the lever. 

(4) Unscrew the device head from the iSi stainless steel bottle and remove the sieve and the sieve seal. Empty the infused liquid into a glass through the iSi Funnel & Sieve lined with a nut milk or straining bag. 

(5) Squeeze the bag until you have recovered 185 ml of liquid. Trying to squeeze out more will result in a more bitter liquid.

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