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Banana Rum

Ok - folks, as always an apology! It have been quiet around here. Yes - my work-life balance actually totally broke down. Festive season - a wine trip to Italy [well - this was at least a bit of life - nice trip though and nice wines... let me know, if you want to learn more about it].

Anyway - I am back... that means, not completely - I am just standing before a rather big challenge - another opening of a restaurant with a challenging beverage concept: tiki cocktails.

If you have been more than once, you might have had the notion, that I am more like a classic cocktail kind of guy. Yes - I love to do something new - but always on rather simple cocktails with few ingredients.  Tiki is not necessary right in my alley.
However my style formed working almost 2 decades in the beverage business. And yes - I did my fair share of tiki.

I will definitely post some picture of the tiki madness. However today, I am dedicating my time and this space for one particular ingredient: banana flavored rum.

Well - you can do it one way: just cut up some medium ripe bananas [to ripe and they will disintegrate and to unripe, and they won't taste banana'ish good] and infuse the rum with it. I thought, I take a little bit more ambitious route: blending bananas and clarify them and add them too rum.

I found a couple of websites, which were extremely helpful - especially ovendriedtomatoes.com.
However I thought, that clarify only banana-smoothie (...) and adding than the mixture to high proof rum would be better [and with less wastage of booze].

But this is not all of it. See - Chefsteps using amylase to convert the starch into sugar [starch is not water soluble and will definitely cloud the liquid] but also "pre-separate" - they are usually also using pectinex to break down the pectins. Well - I don't have fancy powders... and I also don't fancy them. What I though learned is, that sweet potatoes have "built in" amylase - hence if you are keeping a sweetpotato between 50 and 75 degree centigrade, starches converting to sugar [and if you are roasting then your "yam" it becomes brown, caramelized and delicious].

I took this knowledge, to try to "convert" my banana starches - I cut a sweet potato in cubes and added water and put it into my neat soup and sauce ziplock bags. Then I put them into a waterbath for 1 hour at 70 degree centigrade. I used then the water, to blend the bananas and added the slush into some new bags and added them again into the waterbath - I increased about 2 degrees C and let them convert another 1 hour.

Did the slush became sweeter? Well - only incrementally - unfortunately the bananas weren't really ripe and the additional water, was also not a big help! However I could see one interesting thing - the slushy started to separate. My control bag with bananas blended with water actually seemed to have less separation [however also bananas contain amylase - hence the sweet potato water might have just jumpstarted the process - the difference was, that the sweet potato bananas weren't as brownish grey as the bananas in normal water].

After keeping them for one hour in the water bath [Kenji from seriouseats.com found out, that after 1 hour, not much more starch is converted into sugar in sweet potatoes - I just guessed that it is similar with pureed bananas] I took them out and added a agar-agar - water solution [0.2% - please refer to my post about agar-agar clarification].

The whole slush needed to cool down - and then I "massaged" it through a clean pillowcase - almost perfectly clear banana juice.

The only thing left to do is, to add it to overproof rum. I thought about 50:50 - so the "infusion" is just below 40% - much higher than your commercial infused rum.

There are still open ends: I need to infuse the rum as well - as the bananas weren't ripe, they weren't sweet and banana'ish enough! The procedure would also work with very ripe bananas - which I will use the next time.
Do I need to add sugar, spices [like vanilla] or other stuff? Not sure - I rather think an infusion is better than a liqueur - what do you think?
I will use my Büchner funnel to filter the banana infused rum.

Though - I like the idea of using natural amylase instead of adding some powdered stuff from the bio-chemical industry - what do you think?

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