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I have been soaking mandarins segments in vodka at room temperature for 20 days in sealed preserving jars. 500mls vodka to 1 kilo mandarins. the fruit began to rise in the jar as I think it was fermenting. Is this bad and is this useable liquid. My aim is to make mandarin schnapps. Obviously I'm a beginner at this and would value helpful suggestions

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The fruit is probably not fermenting. That alcohol level will kill most bacteria and mold, and while it wouldn't be entirely out of reach of acetic acid bacteria, the floating is much more likely to simply be caused by the segments absorbing ethanol and becoming more buoyant.

I would expect the liquid to taste fine, though I think you could get better and more convenient results by just adding some fresh mandarin juice to vodka. When liquor is infused with citrus fruits, one generally uses the peel (or at least the zest) as well or instead, because the ethanol is effective at absorbing the aroma compounds in them. Limoncello, for instance, is made from lemon zest, and Campari is made from whole chinotto.

In fact, if I saw a kilo of mandarin segments soaking in 500 mL of vodka, I'd assume that the primary purpose was to infuse the segments for eating. (I've seen this preparation called "tipsy oranges".) Of course, you can also drink the liquid. :)

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  • Thank you for that answer, as a novice I shall try and find some worthy questions. – Howard T. Dimmock Jul 19 '18 at 9:56
  • Also by osmosis some sugar will come out of the segments, leaving the juice less dense inside – Chris H Jul 19 '18 at 10:44
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    I make a lot of infused liquor at home and can confirm that the floating is normal; in fact, as the infusion gets further along some of the segments may "equalize" their buoyancy with the alcohol and sink back down again. As long as you've started with 40% ABV/80 proof vodka, you're fine. – logophobe Jul 19 '18 at 15:24
  • @ChrisH Osmosis moves water, not sugars. If the liquid inside is more concentrated, water moves in. If liquid Outside is more concentrated, water moves out. – MarsJarsGuitars-n-Chars Jul 19 '18 at 18:16
  • @MarsJarsGuitars-n-Chars, of course; I don't know how I went from thinking about reducing concentration (by water moving in) to the nonsense I wrote earlier – Chris H Jul 19 '18 at 18:50

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