Potato salad vodka?
December 2, 2008 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Would it be possible to make potato-salad vodka?

Is there any chemical reason that you couldn't start with potato salad instead of just potatoes? Besides it tasting like ass? These are the questions flying around my post-Thanksgiving household.
posted by nímwunnan to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If you can separate out the potatoes from the salad, why not? Any vodka you make will be derived from the starchy potato material, anyway.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:45 PM on December 2, 2008

I suspect your biggest problem would be getting just the yeast to grow, followed up by ph issues. Maybe if you steam-sterilized the salad, before adding the yeast, all the bacteria currently living in the salad might be worn down enough that the yeast could overpower any remnants.
posted by nomisxid at 1:51 PM on December 2, 2008

Also, potato salad has lots of fat in it.

I suspect you'd end up with some very strange flavors in it.
posted by bshort at 1:57 PM on December 2, 2008

I don't see why not. Assuming you have a basic mayo/mustard dressing you'd have the following in addition to the potatoes:
egg yolks
mustard powder
various spices
emulsifiers and thickeners

You'd want to add water, cook it further, and mush it up really well. The oil should separate out on top and you'd be able to skim it off. You could then proceed with the normal process of adding yeast, fermenting it, and distilling. The emulsifiers/thickeners might make things a bit messy when you distilled, but nothing in there would prevent either fermentation or distillation.
posted by TungstenChef at 1:59 PM on December 2, 2008

I don't think that potatoes have the necessary enzymes to convert their starches into sugar on their own; you need enzymes from another source. It's also possible that whatever you put in your potato salad created an environment toxic to yeast.

But! If you want to try this on a small scale, you can boil up your salad, either adding maybe 10%, by weight, of malted six-row barley (keep the temperature in the low 150s, F, during the mash), or by adding some crushed Beano after the boil is complete. Pitch some yeast once it's cool enough, and distill once fermentation completes (if it ever starts).

(Note that distillation might be illegal in your jurisdiction.)
posted by uncleozzy at 2:01 PM on December 2, 2008

or by adding some crushed Beano

OMG Beano can be used for brewing and distillation? I childishly giggle at anything involving Beano. Like I am doing right now.
posted by nímwunnan at 2:05 PM on December 2, 2008

You could always get regular vodka and infuse it with wonderful potato salad flavors (dill, perhaps) and package it up for these curious folk at holiday time.

Sadly, I do not think you can infuse with bacon for German-potato salad flavor.
posted by pointystick at 2:06 PM on December 2, 2008

Au contraire...
posted by pompomtom at 2:11 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

OMG Beano can be used for brewing and distillation?

Sure! I'm not 100% sure that it'll break down potato starch, but it's worth a try. Homebrewers occasionally use it to dry out beers that wound up with too many unfermentable sugars.
posted by uncleozzy at 2:13 PM on December 2, 2008

pompomtom, I am so happy to be wrong! I may have to rethink some Christmas gifts.
posted by pointystick at 2:16 PM on December 2, 2008

I'm assuming that your'e asking to make vodka out of leftover potato salad not potato salad vodka. I'm kind of skeptical how well a vodka would turn out from the other ingredients in the salad. I feel like it's just too many variables to deal with that would interfere with the process causing it to not ferment properly.

Honestly, I think the more interesting project would be trying to create a deconstructed potato salad vodka martini. Maybe fatwash some good quality/homemade mayo in vodka (I have no idea if the flavors would come out or be any good for that matter. I'm just conjecturing, but the fats in the mayo would at least create a smoother mouthfeel in the vodka that could be reminescent of mayo's creaminess.). Make it "dirty" style with a nice sweet and tart pickle brine that you've made yourself to adjust spices and flavors to mimick the sweet pickle relish flavor (sort of like the Rite of Spring at PDT where they used the pickled ramp brine from Momofuku). Maybe try to create a slightly sweet pickle of gherkin/cornichon in some Noilly Prat, then you've got your pickle brine and vermouth knocked out right there. Garnish with a skewer with one of the cornichon pickles, a cube of boiled red bliss potato (skin on), a boiled quail egg (if you put eggs in your potato salad), and if you feel really fancy, maybe a small cube/sphere of deep fried mayo. Actually this sounds like a really bad idea. May God have mercy on your soul if you attempt it.
posted by kkokkodalk at 2:21 PM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

Fermenting anything with mayo in it seems like a bad idea to me.

A better bet, I think, would be to infuse vodka — plain old vodka, already fermented and distilled — with the flavors of potato salad. There's egg-yolk liqueur, so why not egg-yolk-mustard-vinegar-chive-and-potato-skin liqueur?
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:25 PM on December 2, 2008

Or, on non-preview, pretty much what kkokkodalk said, only he sounds like he knows what he's talking about. :)
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:28 PM on December 2, 2008

Wait, wait, hold up a sec. Now that I gave it more thought (I have no idea why), I may have steered you wrong with the whole fatwashing thing. I don't think you could make a very good infusion of mayo with that process. I forgot we're not dealing with just fat and random ingredients in the mayo so you might end up with a kind of gross and cloudy vodka. You might actually have to do something like gelatin clarification, and unless you feel like getting a hold of some liquid nitrogen to do this, it almost seems like more effort than its worth. Though why not I suppose if we're talking about experimenting.

Another way to go I guess is to think about making more of a German style potato salad vodka martini. More focus on vinegary and instead you can focus on flavors like vinegar and onion and maybe make a fatwashed bacon vodka instead and either infuse it more with (green) onions, though I think that's too many flavors battling in one spirit maybe. Instead you could transfer that onion and other flavors to the vinegar brine. Again, making a dirty martini instead. Then adjust the garnish skewer. Maybe make it potato and/or bacon skewer with a pickled green onion tie?
posted by kkokkodalk at 5:00 PM on December 2, 2008

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