Solid Liquids: Bulk Liqueur Dehydration in the Oven
Sugarcane and the Environment

Dehydrating Liqueurs: Stovetop Crystallization Method

SolidLiquidsProjectSquareLogoSo far in the Solid Liquids project, I experimented with using the food dehydrator, oven, and microwave to dehydrate liqueurs into flavored sugars. The project index is here.  

Well, thanks to a Facebook friend, I now have a much more efficient way than all the others I've tried. Lauren Mote, co-owner of Kale & Nori Culinary Arts, wrote me to tell me the way she's made liqueur sugars. She wrote:

So I have found the easiest way to do this is actually culinary and through "almost" candy making.

If you cook down the spirit, and remove the water molecules, the liquids eventually crystallize.... the trick is "agitation". When you're trying NOT to crystallize, which is making candy, brushing the edges of a pot with water constantly prevents crystals from forming in the sugar. However, when you agitate the liquid and sugar, the crystals form. Continue to agitate, on low heat past the candy making stage, do not burn it. You will concentrate all of the flavour, without a microwave. Once the crystallization starts, it's really really really fast! Remove from the heat, keep mixing until the mixture turns light and powdery. Let cool on a SilPat non-stick baking sheet. Once cool, blitz in a food processor and sift through a tea strainer. What you're left with is completely concentrated, amazing powdered spirit. I did this with Cointreau and it was really amazing.

I wasn't sure I was doing it right but I tried it out with Campari, and it works! In short, add the liqueur to a metal pot,

Boiling campari

Heat it so that the alcohol burns off, then it starts going into the candy phases as the water burns off. 

Bubbling campari stovetop

First it boils, then it gets thicker, then it starts to froth. Eventually the frothiness gets really big, like it's going to overboil.

Heating campari stovetop
Thick campari stovetop

Stir it with a metal spoon (perhaps you have a barspoon around). Not long after this point the frothiness dies down a little. You'll notice sugar crystals on the bottom of the pan as you stir it and the volume of the liquid seems to shrink a lot. Though it still looks quite liquid, it's ready.

Pull it out and as fast as you can, scrape it onto a silicone Silpat or other non-stick pan. You'll see that it is sugary and full of crystals. This dries really quickly.

Scraped campari stovetop
Dried campari stovetop2

Then you can stick it into a spice grinder and get your powdered liqueur.

Coffee grinder
Campari sugar in coffee grinder
Ground campari sugar in coffee grinder
Pile of ground campari

The process takes less than two hours, and it seems to work with larger quantities of liqueur just as fast. Sweet.

In future posts, we'll finally start dehydrating liqueurs other than Campari.

The Solid Liquids Project index is at this link




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Doug Ford

Thank you (and Loren Mote) for this approach to dehydrating. I've been making candy for years, yet this strategy never occurred to me.

I'm interested in your perception of any flavor changes in the liquour? Does it still taste like the original, or does it taste "cooked," along the lines of the way pomegranate juice takes on a dark, molasses-like flavor in hot-process grenadine?

Camper English

Doug, The liqueurs seem to loose their aromatics, which can be significant. For example, Campari looses all of its orange flavor and its noticeably different from the original.

However, it does not taste 'cooked' unless you heat it too high - found that with some liqueurs but not all.

Liberty Bar

Fantastic, Camper.

I've done this before - and it works... The problem is that the volume of powder that is left over is a fraction of the volume started...which makes this a very, very expensive powder in most cases.

I've been trying to make flavored infusions/juices that include many of the factors/flavors that we're looking for. But, it's difficult to get a Chartreuse flavor without using Chartreuse.

Great post.

Lauren Mote

It will always be 75% of the quantity - as most of the ABV % in bottles is water - once the water dissipates, you're left with raw product. Although I think it's really cool to produce "chartreuse" powder, it's certainly not cost effective unless there are deep pockets involved to subsidize the costs. I have found that using bulk more inexpensive products work for this method, especially since the light aromatics disappear anyway. Instead of chartreuse, use an inexpensive absinthe, or a blend of absinthe, ricard, galliano and gin - hahahah it's awsome!


Well done Camper! I have been following this carefully in search for an answer.

Anyway I decided to try this method with some rose syrup(to save the liqueur) and when it comes to a boil, the syrup loses its volume and sort of burnt without any sugar crystal forming.

Would like to have your opinion whether it works just as well with syrup and if there is any solution to getting crystals before it burns.

Camper English

In my experiments so far (as you'll see next week), not every liqueur crystallizes. I have tried more than 20 liqueurs now and probably only 6 of them work. Those that don't turn molassesy and take on a cooked/burned flavor as you describe. I haven't tried it, but as a proof of concept you could try making a sugar and water syrup then doing this method to get it to crystallize back out. That way at least you'd know it can work. In a couple weeks I'll post a list of everything that I've tried that does and does not work. In the meantime, good luck!


Another method is to do all of the above, but before anything, add sugar to the liqueur and let stand for a period of time (I have always done over night, but I'm sure less time would suffice). This greatly increases your yield as the sugar takes on the flavour of the liquid and adds solid mass/volume.


At what temperature should the liqueur be during this process?


Hey Camper-

Curious if you've got any of the crystallized Campari left to see if reconstituting it with water (and/or a ratio of orange blossom water) and then freezing would work? I saw that you mentioned the crystallized version lacked it's original flavor, specifically it's orange notes...would it even be a suitable substitute in frozen form anyway?

Camper English

I tried freezing the Campari syrup, but sugar prevents freezing and it remained liquid. It does reconstitute in water - see the non-alcoholic Campari & soda - and I find that expressed orange peel zest does the trick at making it taste its old orangey self.

Camper English

With constant heat, the temperature will slowly rise through the candying stages, listed on most candy thermometers. I believe it's a little under 300 degrees Fahrenheit when it crystallized for me.

Parthasarathi Singh

Hey Camper, small doubt. Will this method work for non-alcoholic liquors? Basically, I'm trying to make iced tea powder using iced tea concentrate made using Twinings tea bags. Anything I need to do differently?

Camper English

Well you'd have to add sugar to the iced tea and then dehydrate it into that. Not sure how it would work or if it would be far too sweet, but worth a try.


Hey Camper,

I'm a little confused what this is for. Is it for food stuff recipes (flavoring) or a method of extracting alcohol into a crystalline form? Does the alcohol ABV dissipate (burn away) in the final product or do the crystals you're left with contain a higher concentration of the substance?

Camper English

Hi - It is to use for non-alcoholic purposes. The alcohol burns off.

Tam Francis

I was trying to make bitters and the recipe said I could use a 10% simple syrup, but crystals formed and I don't want crystals. Is it okay to use in my martinis.

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