Briny bay pickled beans

I’ve been canning off and on for a few years now. Not super seriously, to be honest. I have a pressure canner that I inherited from my mother, but I’m terrified of using it. So I’ve just done a few boiling water canning projects: a marmalade that I thickened too much, a few jams that I never really used, a mustard that turned out completely inedible.

Then I made a batch of hot pickled asparagus the other month.

Holy. Shit.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, pickles are the hipster stereotype of home preserving. It’s the food counterpart to homebrewing (which, for the record, is my mister’s thang). But you know why they’re so popular? Because they’re delicious, and hard to fuck up.

One thing that kills me about canning in general is the fear of botulism preventing me from experimenting. But with pickling, as long as you keep your brine at the correct acidity and use the recommended vegetables and processing times? You can play around a bit with your seasonings without paralyzing anyone’s face. I mean, isn’t that everyone’s goal?

So, these Old Bay infused green bean pickles. They’re spicy-sour, and because they only need to be processed for five minutes, they stay very crisp. I may have eaten an entire jar for lunch one day. When my mister whined that he had tried to find the jar in the fridge for his lunch but they were all gone, I reminded him that six of the jars are destined for my Homemade Trade club and not to eat them. But, I added: I’ll put up another batch while green beans are still in season… if he helped me trim them all up.

He agreed with no hesitation.

briny bay pickled beans

Briny Bay Pickled Beans
Adapted from Pickled Dilled Beans by National Center for Home Food Preservation

Makes 8 pint jars

4 pounds fresh green beans
2 1/4 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
2 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
4 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon pickling salt
8 cloves garlic
16 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

Equipment
8 pint jars, rings, and unused canning lids
boiling water canner with rack
jar lifting tongs
jar funnel (optional, but recommended)
clean dish towels

Important Note: If you’ve never canned before, you will probably want to study up on some basics before you get started. And use common sense when eating home-canned goods — leaking, compromised seals, weird growths, bad smells? Play it safe and throw that shit out.

Wash your green beans and lay out to dry on a dish towel. Trim ends off beans so you’re left with uniform 4-inch lengths. Peel and rinse garlic cloves.

Fill your canner so the water is at least two inches above the jars, and bring to a boil. (You might want to do this earlier depending on how long it takes your canner to come to a boil — I get mine started while I am prepping my beans.)

Wash your jars, lids, rings, and tools by washing in warm soapy water. Then sanitize by boiling in water. Alternatively, use the sanitize setting on your dishwasher, if desired.
In a large saucepan, bring water, vinegar, and pickling salt to a boil.

Remove jars from boiling water.

Add a garlic clove and 2 teaspoons Old Bay to each jar, then tightly pack with as many upright green beans as will fit. Ladle hot brine into each jar — a jar funnel makes this much easier, but if you don’t have one, just be careful. Leave 1/2″ headroom in each jar.

Wipe each rim with a clean, damp cloth. Center an unused, sterilized lid on each jar. Screw the rings over each lid until “fingertip tight” — that is, screwed on until you just start to get resistance.

Use your jar tongs to carefully place each packed jar in the canner. Bring back to a boil, then process for 5 minutes (up to 15 depending on altitude — see chart).

Remove jars from canner with tongs without tilting. Place on a folded dish towel, away from drafts and not touching each other. Let sit undisturbed for at least 12 hours.

Check each jar for a good seal (press on the middle or the lid — it shouldn’t move or make noise). Any that didn’t seal can be refrigerated immediately and still used.

Store sealed jars in pantry for up to 1 year. Then, refrigerate once opened for up to one month.

Hot pickled asparagus for an easy and delicious spring canning project

Have you ever had one of those days when you find yourself at the grocery store with $40 worth of pickles in your cart?

No? Just me?

Not only did this happen, but when I posted about it on Facebook it got more “Likes” than anything else I’ve ever posted about in my entire Facebook career. I don’t even know what to think about this.

To be fair, I didn’t even have that many pickles to add up to that $40. What made it so ridiculous was two jars of rick’s picks. I don’t care. Worth it. I got home and promptly ate an entire jar of the mean beans for dinner. Salty, sour, crisp, and spicy. Almost a little too spicy, but not quite. Just perfect.

Except, uh, they’re $10 a jar.

So I’ve been thinking of making some of my own homemade hot pickled green beans, you know, to try to save some cash while still managing to accidentally pickle my internal organs from over-consumption of salt and vinegar.

But then I thought, waitwaitwait, it’s SPRING. And I kept seeing beautiful asparagus of all colors (green! purple! white!) show up in the farmer’s market and grocery stores. Why not pickle that?

I brought a jar to share with some lovely ladies after a group bike ride the other weekend. None of them had ever tried pickled asparagus before. One of them said: “I’d never even heard of pickled asparagus, but now I can’t imagine a world without it.”

In a word: YEP.

hot pickled asparagus

Hot Pickled Asparagus
Adapted from Pickled Asparagus by National Center for Home Food Preservation and Pickled Asparagus with Hot Peppers and Garlic by Dad Cooks Dinner

Makes 6 pint jars

7 1/2 to 8 pounds asparagus
4 1/2 cups water
4 1/2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity) *
1/2 cup pickling salt
6 cloves garlic
18 dried chili peppers
6 sprigs fresh dill
1.5 teaspoons black peppercorns
1.5 teaspoons whole coriander

* You can substitute some or all of the white vinegar with apple cider vinegar to your tastes. I went for all white vinegar in part because I was using my lovely blue glass canning jars, but using half apple cider vinegar gives delightful flavor. The important thing is to make sure it’s 5% acidity.

Equipment
6 pint jars, rings, and unused canning lids
boiling water canner with rack
jar lifting tongs
jar funnel (optional, but recommended)
clean dish towels

An important note: canning is one of those things where if you fool with established ratios you can die from botulism. Spices/seasonings can generally be changed around without worry, which is where you can get a little creative. You just don’t want to change types of vegetables or levels of brine acidity willy-nilly unless you are a food scientist with access to lab-grade pH testing equipment or something. If you’ve never canned before, you will probably want to study up on some basics before you get started. And use common sense when eating home-canned goods — leaking, compromised seals, weird growths, bad smells? Play it safe and throw that shit out.

To begin, prep your asparagus: wash and lay out on a dish towel to dry. Trim the stalks off so your spears fit upright in your jar — around 4 inches long.

(There will likely be some usable stalk left after you trim to size — cut that off and save for later use in stir fry, risotto, soup, etc.)

Peel and rinse garlic cloves. Rinse chili peppers. Rinse dill sprigs. Lay all out on a dish towel to dry.

Fill your canner so the water is at least an inch above the jars, and bring to a boil. (You might want to do this earlier depending on how long it takes your canner to come to a boil — I get mine started while I am prepping my asparagus.)

Sanitize your jars, lids, rings, and tools by boiling in water (or by using the sanitize setting on your dishwasher, if desired).

When you’re ready to pack, remove jars from boiling water. Put 1/4 teaspoon peppercorns, 1/4 teaspoon whole coriander, a clove of garlic, 3 chili peppers, and 1 sprig of dill in each jar. Then pack with as much asparagus as will fit, tips pointing up. You may not be able to fit all your asparagus into the jars, but better to have some leftover than not have enough to fill your jars, right?

In a large saucepan, bring water, vinegar, and pickling salt to a boil. Remove from heat, then ladle hot brine into each jar — a jar funnel makes this much easier, but if you don’t have one, just be careful. Leave 1/2″ headroom in each jar — it is okay if the tips of the asparagus are a little bit above the brine.

Wipe each rim with a clean, damp cloth. Center an unused, sterilized lid on each jar. Screw the rings over each lid until “fingertip tight” — that is, screwed on until you just start to get resistance, no tighter.

Using your jar tongs, place the jars on the rack in the canner. Wait for the water to come back to a boil, then process for 10 minutes (or up to 20 minutes depending on altitude — see this chart). Remove jars from canner, then place on a dish towel on the counter, not touching each other.

Leave undisturbed for at least 12 hours. Stay close by if you want to hear the satisfying “pop! pop! pop!” that lets you know you’ve succeeded.

Check that all jars have properly sealed by pressing down on the middle of the lid — if it moves and you hear a noise, put them in the fridge immediately and you can still eat them, but they will not be shelf-stable.

Remove the rings before storing if desired (they can sometimes rust or get stuck). Do not open for 3 to 5 days before eating to allow the asparagus to fully pickle. Store in the pantry for up to one year (hahaha yeah right, you’re eating these all within a month!). Then refrigerate upon opening, for up to one month.

Twelve days of food gifts: salted maple caramels

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

Okay, okay, I’m late again on this one. But not too late! And today, on this last day of the Twelve Days of Food Gifts, you have a nice and easy edible gift that you can have packed into baggies under the tree by this afternoon.

Today: salted maple caramels.

salted maple caramelsIf you can find it, use Grade B maple syrup in this recipe. It’s less refined and thus has a more mapley flavor, which helps it really come across in the caramels without having to resort to artificial maple flavoring. It’s also usually a little bit cheaper. I haven’t been able to find it at my local Safeway, but then again they never have anything I need. I always buy it in the big old jugs from Trader Joe’s.

Salted Maple Caramels
Adapted slightly from Maple Syrup Caramels by Serious Eats

1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup grade B maple syrup
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Prep an 8″x8″ baking pan. Line the pan with two criss-crossing strips of parchment paper that are long enough to allow overhang on both sides.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine heavy cream, butter, and fine sea salt until just boiling. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves completely. Then boil for an additional 5-6 minutes, swirling pan occasionally, until mixtures has turned from amber to dark amber.

Pour warm cream mixture into syrup mixture ands stir to combine. Clip your candy thermometer to the side and cook, without stirring, until it reaches 248 degrees.

Pour caramel into prepared pan and let cool for ten minutes. Evenly sprinkle coarse salt over the surface, then let cool for three hours, until cool and firm. It’ll go faster if you pop it in the fridge.

Lift up the ends of the parchment paper to transfer caramel to a cutting board. Cut into 1″ strips, then cut each strip into 1″ pieces.

Wrap each caramel individually in a 4″x4″ square of waxed paper and twist the sides to close.

Caramels will keep stored in an airtight container for 2 weeks.

Twelve days of food gifts: basil vodka

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

I’m sorry! I’m sorry, okay? I skipped not just one, but two days of my Twelve Days of Food Gifts. I’m a horrible person.

Honestly, I think this Gchat jinxed me:

Emily‬: oh I meant to tell you
I really like your little 12 days of gifts thing
that you’re doing
me‬: hahaha thanks
Emily‬: you’re so creative/not lazy
I admire you
me‬: haha i don’t know how the fuck i’ve managed
to get this done

But we’ve still got time, right? It’s not Christmas yet. And the two gifts I have left don’t take too much time. Will you let me make it up to you?

With basil vodka?

basil vodkaBasil Vodka

Makes 4 bottles

1 cup vodka (not too cheap, not too nice)
1/2 cup basil leaves

Put basil leaves in a clean glass jar, then pour vodka over them. Let infuse in a cool dark place, shaking at least 2 times per day, for 2-3 days.

Wash and dry your bottles so they are ready to go when needed.

When basil flavor is to taste, strain through a coffee filter to remove the basil leaves.

Decant into bottles. I found that my regular kitchen funnel did not fit in the neck of these bottles, but a tiny flask funnel worked fine.

For Gifting:
woozy 1.7 oz round glass bottle w/ cap
full-sheet inkjet adhesive
printable (single 2″x2″ label)
printable (12 2″x2″ labels per 8.5″x11″ adhesive sheet)
clear contact paper (optional)

Print labels onto the full-sheet adhesive paper. Make sure you are printing them at 100% — your PDF software may try to automatically resize them. Trim away white edges (a paper cutter really comes in handy for this part). Remove backing, center over a filled bottle, and press firmly in the middle of the label. Then smooth both edges to the sides.

If you’d like to protect the label from potential moisture-related accidents, cover the labels with clear contact paper before cutting them out. I don’t love my friends that much, but you might.

Twelve days of food gifts: vanilla extract

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

This is not a gift you’re going to start making today and have ready by Christmas.

But do you remember a few months ago, when I started making vanilla extract?

homemade vanilla extract

Well, as a part of my Twelve Days of Food Gifts series, it’s now time to bottle ‘em, label ‘em, and give ‘em away! If you started vanilla extract when I did, I’ve got a printable for you.

Anyway, on with it.

vanilla extract

Vanilla Extract

Makes approximately 12 bottles

1.75 liter bottle of vodka
8 ounces vanilla beans

Transfer about two cups of the vodka to a measuring cup.

Using a sharp knife, slice down the middle of each vanilla bean. As you slice them, plop them into the bottle of vodka. I didn’t use the entire half-pound of beans — I saved several for other uses. If you don’t have anything else you want to use them for, just toss them all in.

Using a funnel, pour your reserved vodka back into the bottle until it is full. Find an interesting use for the rest of the vodka. I’m sure you’ll manage.

Put in a cool, dark place. Shake it up every few days or so to agitate the beans, and let it infuse for about two months; longer is better if you have the time.

Strain through a coffee filter to remove beans and sediment.

Decant strained extract into bottles. If desired, add one vanilla bean to each bottle.

For Gifting:
Amber Boston Round Glass Bottle 4 oz w/ Std Cap
full-sheet inkjet adhesive
printable (single .5″x2.75″ label)
printable (16 .5″x2.75″ labels per 8.5″x11″ adhesive sheet)
clear contact paper (optional)

Print labels onto the full-sheet adhesive paper. Make sure you are printing them at 100% — your PDF software may try to automatically resize them. Trim away white edges (a paper cutter really comes in handy for this part). Remove backing, center over a filled bottle, and press firmly in the middle of the label.

If you’d like to protect the label from potential moisture-related accidents, cover the labels with clear contact paper before cutting them out.

Twelve days of food gifts: vanilla sugar

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

Okay, this is the last infused sugar, I swear.

For those of you just joining, this is my Twelve Days of Food Gifts series. I post recipes and printables, you use them to make gifts. Simple as that. This is day nine. Almost there. Mother of god.

Anyway, this is the easiest infused sugar, because the vanilla beans don’t need to be peeled and they don’t make the sugar all weird and clumpy. Also, if you find that the sugar is not vanilla-y enough and you need to wrap it up and get it under the tree, just put a vanilla bean piece or two inside the bottle with the sugar and pretend you meant to do it that way the whole time. I won’t tell if you don’t tell, because that’s what I did.

What would I use vanilla infused sugar for? Well, what doesn’t taste good with a hint of vanilla? Exactly.

vanilla sugar

Vanilla Sugar

Makes 4 jars

heaping 1 2/3 cup sugar
4-8 vanilla beans (scraped is fine)

Slice vanilla beans in half lengthwise. If desired, scrape out caviar to use in another recipe. Put beans, scraped or not, in a glass jar. Cover with sugar. Shake shake shake.

Let sit in a cool, dark spot for 1 to 2 weeks, until fragrant. Shake at least twice a day.

Remove vanilla beans. Then pack scented sugar into spice jars, adding a vanilla bean (or half of a vanilla bean) to the bottle if desired.

For Gifting:
J.K. Adams 2 ounce Flint Jars
full-sheet inkjet adhesive
printable (single 5.25″x2.75″ label)
printable (3 5.25″x2.75″ labels per 8.5″x11″ adhesive sheet)
clear contact paper (optional)

Print labels onto the full-sheet adhesive paper. Make sure you are printing them at 100% — your PDF software may try to automatically resize them. Trim away white edges (a paper cutter really comes in handy for this part). Remove backing, center over a filled jar, and press firmly in the middle of the label. Then smooth both edges around the back.

If desired, cover the labels with clear contact paper before you cut them out to protect the label from running if exposed to steam or moisture. But really, who are you kidding. This won’t last long enough in someone’s kitchen to have the label run, because vanilla sugar goes on everything.

Twelve days of food gifts: apple cider caramels

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

Unlike the other gifts I’ve posted so far, these caramels require a leetle more active work. But you can finish them in an afternoon rather than having to wait for things to infuse.

No fun printables for these little guys, but… they’re apple cider caramels. Nobody will complain, I promise.

The endorsement from my friend Brian: “Those caramels are good. I mean they’re really, really good.”

apple cider caramels

Apple Cider Caramels
Adapted ever-so-slightly from Apple Cider Caramels by Deb Perelman in the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Makes approximately 49 caramels

4 cups fresh apple cider
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, boil apple cider. Boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a thick, dark syrup. You’ll be left with 1/3 to 1/2 cup syrup from the original 4 cups of cider. If you can raise the heat up a little higher without it burning, do so — it’ll speed the process up. I had smoke detector issues, so I didn’t. Over medium heat, it took me about an hour.

That’s fine, because while that’s reducing you can get everything else in order.

First off, prep an 8″x8″ baking pan. Line the pan with two criss-crossing strips of parchment paper that are long enough to allow overhang on both sides.

In a small bowl, mix together salt and cinnamon.

Once the cider is reduced, remove from heat. Stir in butter, sugar, brown sugar, and heavy cream until integrated. Put your candy thermometer in, and return the pot to medium heat. Let it boil without stirring until the thermometer reads 252 degrees. Keep a close eye — the temperature jumps erratically.

Once it hits 252, immediately remove from heat and stir in cinnamon/salt. Scrape into prepared pan. Let sit for 2 hours, until cool and firm. You can pop it into the fridge to speed things up.

Lift up the ends of the parchment paper to transfer caramel to a cutting board. Cut into 1″ strips, then cut each strip into 1″ pieces.

Wrap each caramel individually in a 4″x4″ square of waxed paper and twist the sides to close.

Caramels will keep stored in an airtight container for 2 weeks.

Twelve days of food gifts: zesty salt’n'pep

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

Okay, so I’m just getting this in under the wire today. My mister and I threw a cocktail party yesterday. Aside from prepping all the food (which I of course forgot to take any photos of), there was plenty of socializing to be done. Needless to say, I spent today lazing around doing nothing (read: watching Serenity and several episodes of Freaks and Geeks).

But I’m doing it! I bring you day seven of the Twelve Days of Food Gifts.

This zesty salt’n'pepper mix? It’s a quickie. If you want to make it even faster, you can use pre-ground black pepper… but I think it’s worth it to grind it yourself — you can call it an arm workout or something. Or use a coffee grinder or spice mill.

And it tastes delicious on everything.

zesty salt'n'pepZesty Salt’n'Pep

Makes 4 jars

2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 heaping cup sea salt
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 heaping cup garlic powder

Mix it all together. Put it in jars. The end.

For Gifting:
J.K. Adams 2 ounce Flint Jars
full-sheet inkjet adhesive
printable (single 5.25″x2.75″ label)
printable (3 5.25″x2.75″ labels per 8.5″x11″ adhesive sheet)
clear contact paper (optional)

Print labels onto the full-sheet adhesive paper. Make sure you are printing them at 100% — your PDF software may try to automatically resize them. Trim away white edges (a paper cutter really comes in handy for this part). Remove backing, center over a filled jar, and press firmly in the middle of the label. Then smooth both edges around the back.

If desired, cover the labels with clear contact paper before you cut them out to protect the label from running if exposed to steam or moisture.

Twelve days of food gifts: orange sugar

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

Another infused sugar! I know. But they’re nice and easy so I made a few. There’s only one more. I swear.

For those of you just joining us, this is my Twelve Days of Food Gifts series. I’m making some edibles, packin’ em up, slappin’ some labels on there and putting them under the tree. And… posting everything here for you so you can do the same.

The orange sugar ended up being my favorite, which I didn’t expect. It infused the fastest, got the least clumpy and annoying, and the flavor is delicate but very distinctly orange.

What would I use orange infused sugar for? Sprinkling on top of cookies or muffins before baking (either chocolate or vanilla would be divine), and sweetening oatmeal.

orange sugarOrange Sugar

Makes 4 jars

heaping 1 2/3 cup sugar
1 orange (organic recommended)

Scrub your orange very well.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin off of the orange in strips. Put in glass jar. Cover with sugar. Shake shake shake.

Let sit in a cool, dark spot for 5 to 7 days, until fragrant. Shake at least twice a day.

Pour sugar onto a baking sheet, spread out, break up clumps with a spoon, and let dry. Once dry, sift sugar to remove orange peels and break up any lasting clumps. Then, pack scented sugar into spice jars.

For Gifting:
J.K. Adams 2 ounce Flint Jars
full-sheet inkjet adhesive
printable (single 5.25″x2.75″ label)
printable (3 5.25″x2.75″ labels per 8.5″x11″ adhesive sheet)
clear contact paper (optional)

Print labels onto the full-sheet adhesive paper. Make sure you are printing them at 100% — your PDF software may try to automatically resize them. Trim away white edges (a paper cutter really comes in handy for this part). Remove backing, center over a filled jar, and press firmly in the middle of the label. Then smooth both edges around the back.

If desired, cover the labels with clear contact paper before you cut them out to protect the label from running. You’re a better person than I.

Twelve days of food gifts: peppercorn vodka

twelve days of food gifts 2012: apple cider caramels | basil vodka | lemon sugar | lime sugar | Old Bay vodka | orange sugar | peppercorn vodka | rosemary salt | salted maple caramels | vanilla extract | vanilla sugar | zesty salt’n'pep

It’s day five of the stuffed grapes twelve days of food gifts. If you’re just joining us: Every day I post a recipe, links to packaging supplies, and printable labels so you can go ahead and make some last minute gifts.

Today it’s time for another boozy treat. Obviously.

So, jalapeno vodka, habanero vodka, chipotle vodka… these all sound really tasty, right? But sometimes you want something just a little spicy — not something that will melt your face off. Especially if your face might already be melting off. Since you’re doing shots.

Enter peppercorn vodka. Peppercorns are great for  an understated heat, which I guess is why we use them to gently spice food on a daily basis. They also give a lovely tint to the vodka. And they infuse fast. If you find yourself a couple of days before Christmas and you haven’t started anything yet, you could whip up a batch of this in less than forty-eight hours, including bottling and labeling.

peppercorn vodka

Well? Get to it.

Peppercorn Vodka

Makes 4 bottles

1 cup vodka (not too cheap, not too nice)
1 scant tablespoon dried peppercorns (any color, but I used black)

Mix vodka and peppercorns in a clean glass jar. Seal and put in a cool, dark place. Let it infuse, shaking the jar several times per day, for 1 to 2 days for a subtle peppery flavor — longer for a real spicy kick.

Wash and dry your bottles so they are ready to go when needed.

When pepper flavor is to taste, strain through a coffee filter to remove the peppercorns.

Decant into bottles. I found that my regular kitchen funnel did not fit in the neck of these bottles, but a tiny flask funnel worked fine.

For Gifting:
woozy 1.7 oz round glass bottle w/ cap
full-sheet inkjet adhesive
printable (single 2″x2″ label)
printable (12 2″x2″ labels per 8.5″x11″ adhesive sheet)
clear contact paper (optional)

Print labels onto the full-sheet adhesive paper. Make sure you are printing them at 100% — your PDF software may try to automatically resize them. Trim away white edges (a paper cutter really comes in handy for this part). Remove backing, center over a filled bottle, and press firmly in the middle of the label. Then smooth both edges to the sides.

If you’d like to protect the label from potential moisture-related accidents, cover the labels with clear contact paper before cutting them out. I don’t love my friends that much, but you might.