Anyone who’s been reading this blog for any length of time has probably figured out that culinary exploration – artisanal and/or innovative kitchen play – is truly one of my greatest passions. I’ve gone through a “from scratch” phase (it all started with veggie stock, and continued on through DIY green powder) and a fermenting phase (first there was kombucha, and then came the sauerkraut, and don’t forget the sriracha sauce!) and a very experimental phase (strawberry marinara, anyone?).
I draw so much of my inspiration from the Farmer’s Market, but there’s only so many ways you can cook, blend, dehydrate, and otherwise manipulate your produce. Okay I take that back, there’s pretty much an endless array of fantastic ways in which you can manipulate produce, but for the sake of this story, let’s just say that my love of farm-to-table dining, coupled with my ever-active culinary creativity, has led me here. To this: my liquor infusion phase.
Homemade artisanal infusions, using organic or homegrown produce, are ridiculously easy to make. Like, SO easy. And I promise you that these incredible elixirs will elevate your cocktails to new heights; that they’ll delight the eyes and tickle the tongues of you and all your summer party guests. I promise.
And also, I promise you that I’ll share a brand new Farmer’s Market-inspired cocktail recipe -featuring an infusion – every Sunday morning for the rest of the summer. Sound good?
Now it’s time to prep your ingredients and gather your supplies. You’ve got your fresh produce from the market, and you’ll need whatever liquor you want to infuse. I say use vodka – you can’t go wrong with vodka – but of course there’s rum, tequila, gin . . . whatever suits your fancy. Organic alcohol is available, and you can verify the vegan status of any booze using Barnivore.com (many beers, wines, and spirits are fined or clarified using animal-derived ingredients). Aside from the food and the liquor, you’ll just need glass jars to hold your infusions!
Prep all your ingredients. For things like fresh herbs, this just means a rinse and the removal of any browned leaves. For soft-skinned fruits, like cherries or peaches, you shouldn’t need to peel them. For citrus you’ll want to knife-peel, meaning you should use a knife to remove all of the white pith, lest your liquor become bitter. Skin your ginger, remove the outer layers of lemongrass or leeks, etc. It’s pretty intuitive, I think.
Wash and dry your glass jars. Add the produce.
Add the liquor. Fruit should be completely submerged. Herbs? Meh.
Cap those suckers and that’s it – now it’s just a waiting game. Soft fruits like strawberries or pineapple may be done in as little as 3-4 days. Herbs usually take about a week, and harder stuff like ginger or lemongrass may take up to two weeks. You can shake, smell, and even taste, as time goes by. You’ll notice the color begin to change almost immediately.
When your infusions have steeped to the desired potency, the final step is to strain them. You can use cheesecloth, or a nut milk bag, or even a very fine mesh sieve.
Keep the lids screwed on tight, and you won’t have to refrigerate them. Don’t forget to clearly label!
And that’s that. Get creative, invite some friends over, and slap on your mixologist hat. You know what I always say – have fun with it!