What is vodka?
Vodka is a clear alcoholic spirit that has been around since the Middle Ages, playing various roles from a medicinal restorative to a topical curative, and becoming an integral part of the culture in Russia and Poland. Its name comes from “voda,” the Russian word for water.
Vodka’s reputation as a clean, mostly tasteless alcohol has led it to become one of the world’s most versatile and often-used spirits, beloved by bartenders for its usefulness in cocktail making.
How is it made?
Vodka is made by fermenting any food that contains sugar or starch: often grains and sometimes potatoes, fruits or grapes. The fermentation process converts the sugars into alcohol. Distillation follows fermentation, and depending how “pure” a vodka you’re striving for, this can be done any number of times — hence the common use of terms like “triple distilled,” on vodka bottles. The liquid is distilled to 90% or more alcohol by volume in order to remove all the potential smell and taste of whatever ingredients were used to produce it, before diluting with water to a less lethal level of alcohol.
- Vodka is a fantastic replacement for water when making pastry. It allows you to add more liquid to your dough, making it easier to roll, while still limiting the gluten development that can make your dough tough. As the crust bakes, most of the ethanol vaporises into the air, leaving a crust that’s flaky and tender with no alcoholic flavour.
- When working with fondant, vodka makes a good glue.
- Try cooking with vodka, as in the famous “penne alla vodka,” made with vodka, penne, heavy cream, crushed tomatoes and onions.
- A spray bottle full of even the cheapest vodka can clean practically everything in your home. It makes a great streak-free glass cleaner, can disinfect your mattress (just spray and allow to air-dry), will deodorise smelly shoes or bins, works wonders on soap scum in the bathroom and is perfect for giving chopping boards a thorough clean.
Vodka never freezes due to its high alcohol content, so keep it in the freezer for nicely chilled drinks every time!
Vodka does not contain any sugar, fat, cholesterol, sodium or carbs, and is one of the lowest-calorie spirits available
Thirsty after all of that? Treat yourself to a classic Moscow Mule and mull it over!