The next batch of tonic was made yesterday. It is improving each time, so in the interests of elevating the drinking pleasure of cruisers worldwide, I though it worth reporting back
Feedback on changes made last time:
The coriander seeds were a very good addition (the lemon verbena did not have a noticeable effect).
Using lemon/lime extract instead of freshly grated rind was brilliant. In addition, big quantities of extract can be made when fresh citrus is readily available and its shelf life is at least a year or two.
Two changes this time:
1. Following Dockhead's comment about the excess citric acid in the last batch, I paid more attention to its effect and reduced the quantity, adding small amounts and tasting after each addition. Two flat soupspoons seemed about right (less than half the original quantity).
2. I eliminated making sugar syrup and instead added an extra cup of water
when boiling the cinchona, and then simply added a bit over ¾ cup of sugar to the hot mix after being strained. Saves time and fuss and it is also safer having all the water
This mix requires little effort if you have citrus extract on hand and tastes fantastic! As an added bonus all ingredients can be happily stored unrefrigerated long term on a boat, so the tonic can be made anytime, anywhere.
= Trial # 5 since I very first started experimenting, the first two batches were not usable for G&Ts. The last batch was made on the 23rd April.
6 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
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
1 heaped teaspoon dried lemongrass (I think it would be even better with lemongrass extract, but I have no access to freshly picked stalks)
½ teaspoon dried lavender flowers
1 teaspoon dried lemon verbena, crushed
2 flat soupspoons citric acid levelled off with a knife (a bit less than ⅛ cup)
¼ teaspoon salt
¾-1 cup sugar (to taste)
¼ cup homemade lemon/lime essence (= finely grated zest of 1 lime and 1 lemon per ¼ cup gin or vodka, soaked 5-7 days then strained)
1 cup gin (to improve the keeping quality)
- Bring the water and cinchona to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes
- Add cardamon, allspice and coriander seeds, cover and simmer another 1 min
- Turn off heat and leave covered for 5 minutes
- Add lemongrass, lavender & lemon verbena and leave 10-15 minutes (no more, as it will become bitter)
- Strain using a tea strainer (if you are careful, most of it stays in the bottom of the pot)
- Add the citric acid, salt
& sugar and stir until dissolved
- Using a coffee filter, funnel and two clean dry 750 ml bottles, filter the liquid twice (speeds up if using two funnels)
- Add half of gin and lemon extract to each bottle (makes almost 1.5 litres)
With the last two batches, a dusting of sediment accumulated after about 2-3 weeks. It is most likely simply what the paper filter did not catch, settling out of the mix (I get the same thing occurring when lemon or ginger extract is made and that uses straight gin). If the liquid is carefully filtered again without incorporating this sediment and the last little murky bit then filtered into a different container (no point wasting it
), then the sediment does not reoccur.
I have been keeping the tonic unrefrigerated until starting to drink it. Two to three months seems to be no problem so far - crystal clear, tastes wonderful. The last batch was made on the 23rd April and there is still a couple of cups left. The third batch was made over 3 months ago and I held half a cup back to check for longevity. No problems so far.
I put the long life down to eliminating the need to stew plant matter in cold water for 3 days, particularly fresh stuff (I shudder to think what is growing in the resulting murky mix, no wonder two weeks refrigerated is the life expectancy then), coupled with ¾ - 1¼ cups of gin being added. As well, the citric acid acts as a slight preservative.
Warning: Make and drink at your own risk - read the earlier posts about possible reactions with the use of quinine.