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The Kumquat Crucible II

Planning

In my previous post, I explained what inspired my holiday project for 2016, kumquat liqueur. I also said I followed (rather loosely as it turns out) a Christina’s Cucina recipe for making it.

Christina’s recipe is designed to create one bottle of liqueur. But I am nothing if not ambitious. I wanted to make enough liqueur to give a tall jar to each of my four sons for Christmas. So I upped the recipe. I used 2 liters of grain alcohol, 40 ounces of water, 8 cups of Kumquat peels and 4 cups of sugar. But there were a few, shall we say…glitches.

First I should say that Christina’s recipe called for a 45%-by-volume alcohol base. She mentioned using vodka or grain alcohol. Having never heard of 45% (90 proof) grain alcohol, I opted for regular grain alcohol which is a great deal stronger. My wife asked if that would be too strong. I did a lightning calculation in my head. “No worries,” said I to my troubled spouse, “This is going to be extremely watered down and as sweet as candy when we’re done.” Her trepidation persisted, thinly veiled.  She is wise beyond her years.

Did you ever notice that as quick as lightning is, it’s rather arbitrary and destructive? Hold that thought for a bit.

Execution

The first step was to peel 8 cups of kumquats.

We soaked the rinds in alcohol for 14 days, more than the recommended 10. I’m a busy guy.

Straining the rinds

Next, we strained the rinds leaving the now fruity alcohol to be mixed with sugar water later.  It was at this point Lynette suggested we might make labels and give our stuff a name.

“It should have a pleasant Southern charm about it,” Herself said.

“How about Billy Bob’s Urine Sample,” I offered.  All I got was a smirk. “Mississip-pee? That would be a good one.” 

She smacked my arm and called me a twit.  “I’m thinking more along the lines of Gulf Mist or something with Gautier in the name.”

“Yes, dear.” 

We then followed the instructions to mix and heat the sugar water. After waiting for it to cool, we added the alcohol and filtered everything into mason jars. 

First filtered batch.

The filtering process was a bit slow. So I took a break and took the dog for a walk. When I returned, my problems still didn’t dawn on me.  This, despite the fact my house smelled like it had been hosed down with orange juice and rubbing alcohol.

You see, the problem was my math. The proportions resulting from my calculations were exactly backward. By the time I realized how poorly I had performed my “timeses” and “gozintas”, I had created 96 ounces of a citrus flavored high explosive. I DID NOT water it down to less than a third of its original strength. I hadn’t even cut it by a full third.

In Navy terms, this stuff would knock your dick in the dirt. And the citrus tingle stays strong on the tongue for hours (…14 days, more than the recommended 10).  If I gave this to my sons for Christmas, my great grandchildren would be born with hangovers and a lemon pucker.

The Do-over

I will now  resort to what I am calling great idea #722B.  We created another batch of sugar water (40 oz of water and 3 cups of sugar.) After employing algebra, calculus and having NASA engineers check my figures, we concluded this would cut the strength of the  mix by about a third. It would be about as strong as straight Jim Beam. And it would mellow the citrus kick. I sure hope so. I sampled a bit of the original and I think the nerve damage to my tongue is permanent.

So now, we wait while the filtration process is repeated… [Cue the Jeopardy thinking music]

Success!  Along with making the liqueur sweeter and a bit more mellow, we also removed a lot of solids that survived the original filtration process.  The dark orange particles floated to the top while the batch was stored.  When we filtered the old batch into the new sugar water, these little specs were captured. 

So now, we stow the jars in a cool dark place.  An initial cloudiness will fade to a clear honey gold and they will be ready to enjoy when we see the family.

Christmas is so much nicer when the words “poison control” are not haunting your thoughts.  God bless us, Every One!

Coming soon:  I will be updating my Blueberry (De)tour when I’ve cleared the bushes around the wild berry plants. The things I do for my readers.

Hey! That gives me another idea. Idea #723: Next year, homemade blueberry vodka! Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that sooner?

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T'is the Season for Solipsistic Holiday Whining.

12274217_10153877576240809_6298490738344730827_nSay “Merry Christmas” to me, goddamn it!

On which planet is it where we “can’t” or “must” say Merry Christmas? Some people don’t. But that’s certainly none of our business…unless you are a Hillary fan or a PC campus nut job.  They are the type who think they should decide for others what they must and must not say. I doubt anyone I know would demand others say, “Merry Christmas” or anything else to them. At the same time, I am sure all the same people feel perfectly at liberty to say it themselves. The exception, of course would be a store employees with a private fiduciary arrangement with their employer. The operative word here is “private”. I know that none of the people I respect would try to make a store employee feel bad for following a policy that is ONLY the business of the store and the employee. Only shrews and liberal snowflakes would feign outrage and go out of their way to make people who work in stores feel bad in order to make themselves feel righteous.

I have a secret for the constant whiners: Xmas isn’t the only holiday celebrated this time of year. And even if it was, there are countless ways to wish someone well. They can “enjoy the season”, “have a nice holiday”, “have a joyous Noel”, and of course the dreaded, “Happy Holidays”. I’ve worked retail over two Yuletides. Do you have any idea how old it gets saying Merry Christmas over and over again, for weeks?

So grow up, y’all. Be happy that another human even acknowledged you, much less included you in their best wishes.       From my family to yours… Enjoy the Solstice! But don’t spoil the kids with too many dreidels!

Matt Jordan is a travel writer, political commentator and author of 16 20 24. Get your SIGNED copy here!

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