WOW! What a difference between soaking the cinchona in cold water
and boiling it. Not subtle at all!
I soaked one lot of bark in cold water
for 64 hours, then deciding it had had enough time soaking, I boiled up a second batch for 30 minutes (using an extra cup of water, as I knew a fair bit would be lost
Firstly, the appearance was very different. The one soaking for almost 3 days had become murkier with each shake and the colour was orangy-brown with just a tinge of red. The boiled lot was crystal clear with a brighter reddish colour.
The difference in smell could instantly be identified before the taste test. Miles nicer for the boiled lot. There was also a dramatic difference in taste between the two. The underlying bitterness was about the same, but the rest of the flavours were rounder and richer when boiling. And the flavour was "right" (ie what my taste buds expected in tonic, the other was quite unpleasant in comparison). You really need to try this to appreciate it.
Boiling wins hands down!
I processed the rest of the ingredients optimally for each, as mentioned in my previous post. This worked well and was not onerous.
The recipe may need a bit of playing with still (I'll experiment
to see how much boiling is ideal), but the result is good as is. I will wait now until I have used up this lot before making any more. I think at this stage the ideal method and exact quantities are up to individual tastes, so just experiment
and see what suits you. Lots of botanicals used in gin could probably successfully be added in small quantities to add a subtle complexity to the mix.
I also think if you don't want to fuss with sourcing and storing a lot of ingredients, simply cinchona, lime and/or lemon rind, citric acid and sugar syrup would make a perfectly acceptable mix if the technique outlined below is used. This would roughly reproduce the original ingredients used by British officers in India
to make quinine palatable and I think would still give a vastly better drink compared to sugary bought tonic that doesn't have any depth
to it anyway.
In the quest for a perfect tonic, I have now deviated significantly from the technique used by half dozen other recipes
found online. Here is the method I used
(trial 3 - best by far)
5 cups water
¼ cup cut cinchona bark
3 whole cardamom pods, split open and seeds scraped out
4 whole allspice berries, bashed with a hammer
1 teaspoon dried lemongrass
½ teaspoon dried lavender flowers
¼ cup citric acid
¼ teaspoon salt
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
Finely grated rind of 1 lime
¾ cup ordinary white sugar
¾ cup boiling water
(you may need more, as most recipes
called for at least 2 cups of sugar)
½ cup gin (to increase the keeping quality)
- Bring the water and cinchona to boil, simmer 30 minutes
- Meanwhile mix the sugar and boiling water together and put aside to dissolve and cool
- When the cinchona is nearly done, throw in the cardamom pods & seeds plus allspice and continue simmering a few minutes
- Take off heat, cool a few minutes, add lemongrass and lavender and leave 10-15 minutes (definitely no longer).
- Strain using a sieve then a tea strainer
- Add the citric acid and salt
and stir to dissolve
- When lukewarm, add the finely grated lime and lemon rind
- Let sit half an hour or so, strain with a tea strainer, give it a few minutes for any sediment to sink to the bottom so that it doesn't clog the paper filter early, then filter using a coffee filter and funnel
- Add sugar syrup to taste (I used not quite all the sugar)
- Add half a cup of gin (optional) and bottle.
Dockhead, thanks not only for the bark, but for initially posting
the idea of making tonic syrup.