Use up those buckets of winter citrus with these bitters. Meyer lemons are sweet, delicate, and perfumey, but I wanted my bitters on the bitter side, with some accents of orange and lime leaves to make for a more complex citrus fragrance. Makrud lime leaves pierce through the perfumy nature of Meyer lemons with a sharp punch, while bitter orange, fennel, and spices create earthy undertones for balance.
Note: When peeling citrus, try to include as little white pith as possible. Dried citrus zest and dried ginger slices are available commercially, or make your own by zesting citrus and drying in an oven at 250° F for one hour.
- Yield:makes about 18 ounces
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:3-1/2 weeks
- Peeled zest from 4 Meyer lemons
- Peeled zest from 1/2 bitter orange
- Peeled zest from 1 Eureka lemon
- 2 tablespoons dried lemon zest (see note)
- 1/2 tablespoon dried orange zest (see note)
- 4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 1 teaspoon dried ginger slices (see note, do not use powder)
- 1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
- 5 dried makrud lime leaves
- 3/4 teaspoon dried gentian root
- 1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
- 2 cups 100 proof vodka
- 1 cup water
In an airtight container, combine all of the zest, cardamom, ginger, coriander, white pepper, lime leaves, gentian root, and fennel seed. Pour vodka over the ingredients and seal container. Swirl to combine. Keep the container in a cool, dark place for two weeks, swirling mixture once daily.
After two weeks, strain out solids and set aside. Strain liquid through a cheesecloth to remove any particles left and transfer to an airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place. In a small sauce pan, combine solids with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boil is reached, turn heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, pour contents of the pan into a separate airtight container and let sit one week.
After a week, strain out solids through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer. Add to the original liquid that has been set aside. Let sit at room temperature for 3 days and skim off any residue that accumulates at the top. Strain again if there is any leftover sediment and bottle into dropper bottles for storage.