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WINNER: Off-piste

Beetroot & Horseradish Vodka

Lucy Young

Infusing vodka with beetroot and horseradish came to me one experimental afternoon. Beetroot is such a great superfood and often overlooked in kitchens, and I thought its earthy sweetness and vivid hues would work really well with vodka.

I enjoy experimenting with unusual combinations and so looked for something to add to the beetroot to give it a bit of a kick and liven up the velvety juice. Having just enjoyed a tasty roast lunch, the smell of horseradish sauce wafted over, and was easily to hand adn just worked.

I then set about recreating that smell in a delicious vodka form.

Put the following ingredients into a 1 litre (1 3⁄4 pint) Kilner jar:
■ 70cl bottle good-quality vodka
■ 2-3 large cooked beetroot, roughly chopped
■ 2.5cm (about 1 inch) raw horseradish, sliced
■ Juice of 2-3 lemons
■ 10 tbsp sugar
■ 1 tsp vinegar
■ 1⁄2 tsp English mustard powder
■ Extra lemon and sugar to taste.

Turn over and shake a couple of times a day for about three days until all the sugar has dissolved. Then filter through a muslin into a clean, sterilised jar.

Discard the slices of horseradish but the vodka-infused beetroot makes a fantastic accompaniment to smoked salmon with a dollop of crème fraîche, a squeeze of lemon juice and a grind of pepper.

Now comes the bit that makes the vodka lovely and smooth: add extra lemon juice and sugar to taste. I prefer a sweet taste so add a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Apologies for not being more precise but each batch brews differently, so the amount of extra sugar and lemon juice varies.

Leave in a darkened place for a couple of weeks, turning occasionally, then filter again into a sterilised bottle.

The resulting liquor should be consumed at once (before someone else gets to it).

Winner – Traditional: Raspberry Gin

Winner – Off-piste: Beetroot and horseradish vodka

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