Infusions & More

 

Infused Liquors

Apple Brandy Hot Toddy

  • 2 cups good quality brandy
  • 1 apple, cored and diced into small pieces
  • 1 cardamom pod, slightly crushed
  • 1 inch of cinnamon stick

Place everything in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Store away from heat and strong light, and give the jar a gentle shake daily. The Apple Brandy will be tasty after two weeks, and even smoother after four weeks. Strain into a clean bottle. Rescue the brandy-infused apple pieces for garnishes (and nibbling).

Arugula-Infused Vodka

For two servings: Place four ounces of vodka in a glass mixing cup, along with a small handful of arugula. Muddle, and let sit for upwards of an hour (if you’re patient). Strain and use as soon as possible.

Cranberry Liqueur

  • 2 cups vodka
  • 1 cup cranberries, halved or smushed
  • peel of one orange (I used a satsuma)
  • sprig of lemon verbena, rosemary or sage
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons good quality maple syrup

Place everything but the maple syrup in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Give it a gentle shake daily. Store it away from a window or the stove. Taste it after 2 or 3 days to see if the rosemary or sage flavor is strong enough. If so, pull the herb out. If you are a rosemary or sage fan, maybe you’ll want to leave it in for the entire two weeks. Lemon verbena is a gentler presence, and can stay in the infusion the whole time. After two weeks, taste again. If you’re pleased with the flavor strength, strain the infusion into a clean bottle. Sweeten to taste with the maple syrup.

Fall Amaro:

  • apples
  • grapes
  • bay leaf
  • sage
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • marjoram
  • hops
  • calendula
  • nigella seeds
  • fennel seeds
  • coriander seeds
  • pineapple sage
  • tarragon

I used brandy as the base to complement the autumnal flavors I collected. Vodka had been the spirit for the other amaros I made. I’m tasting the Fall Amaro weekly, and plan to let it infuse for four weeks. After four weeks, I’ll strain the amaro into a clean bottle, and add some simple syrup to taste. Making these seasonal amaros has been simple. And even easier to enjoy!

Hot Toddy Brandy

  • 2 1/2 cups to 3 cups brandy
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 clove
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • slice of fresh ginger

Place everything in a quart glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Taste your brandy after two or three days and remove any item that is on the verge of being overpowering. (I removed the fennel seeds at this point.) At the end of one week, taste again and see if your Hot Toddy Brandy is spicy enough. I let my brandy infuse for 10 days. When ready, strain out the solids and pour the brandy into a clean bottle.

Persimmon Vermouth

  • 1 bottle good quality dry vermouth
  • 3 persimmons, chopped into a small dice (Hachiya persimmons are ideal, and I had great results with Fuyu persimmons)

Place the vermouth and chopped persimmons in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Keep away from as much heat and light as possible. Give the jar a gentle shake daily for a week. I let my Persimmon Vermouth infuse for two weeks. Strain into a clean bottle and store in the fridge. Use within two to four weeks.

Rhubarb Elixir

  • 6 cups Rhubarb Cordial (here’s that how to)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 ounce rose geranium tincture (here’s more info on tinctures)
  • 3/4 ounce rosemary tincture*

Mix together in a large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Let the flavors blend together for a week. Shake the jar gently daily. The honey will incorporate into the liquid after a few days. Enjoy this Rhubarb Elixir in small glasses or by the spoonful.

*Tinctures can be purchased from herbal apothecaries, such as Dandelion BotanicalTenzing Momo and Sugarpill Apothecary in Seattle.

Rosemary/Orange Vodka

In a clean jar, put as much vodka as you wish to infuse, with several sprigs of washed rosemary, and some long orange peels.  A gadget called a channel knife makes quick work of this task.  You don’t want any peel with the bitter white part.  Cover and gently shake your jar.  After three days, strain the vodka into a clean bottle.

Strawberry Bay Infused Tequila

Infusing the tequila with fresh, organic strawberries is a snap.  Fill a quart sized glass jar with 2 to 3 cups of tequila.  Add 1 to 2 cups of strawberries – frozen are fine.  Just eyeball the proportions that look good to you. Add a fresh bay leaf (dried is fine).  Cover the jar tightly, and let it sit in a dark, cool place for one to two weeks, shaking occasionally.  Pour through a strainer into a clean bottle. Freeze the strawberries in small clumps overnight. An ice cube tray or mini muffin tin works great. Then transfer the berries to a freezer container for future cocktail additions.

Summer Amaro

  • 5 cups good quality vodka
  • alpine strawberries
  • anise hyssop
  • aronia berries
  • bay leaf
  • basil
  • basil mint
  • calendula
  • coriander seeds
  • fennel seeds
  • hops
  • lemon balm
  • lemon grass
  • lemon verbena
  • lovage seeds
  • marjoram
  • nigella seeds
  • golden oregano
  • pineapple sage
  • plum
  • rosemary
  • rose petals
  • sage
  • tarragon
  • thyme

I’m tasting it daily the first week, and giving it a good shake, making sure all the ingredients stay submerged in the vodka. I’ve got some floaters in this bunch. After two weeks, I’ll decide if the Summer Amaro is robust enough, or if I’ll keep it infusing for another week or two. Four weeks is usually plenty of time for this infusion. When the Summer Amaro is declared ready, I’ll strain it and give it a taste. It might need a bit of simple syrup. So far the fruit and berries in this creation are imparting plenty of sweetness.

Boozy Foods

Boozy Apricots

  • 1 clove
  • 5 whole black peppercorns
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • small 1? piece of cinnamon stick
  • dried apricots
  • dried tart cherries
  • liquor – I used a Taiwanese spirit – Kaoliang Chiew to keep this infusion extra intriguing. Vodka, bourbon, whiskey or rum would be good as well.

Place spices and vanilla in the bottom of a one cup/smallish glass jar. Add the apricots to two-thirds of the way up. Alternate layers of apricots and dried cherries, if you want to add the cherries. Cover with liquor to within one-half inch from the top. Your fruit will expand and soak up that extra liquor. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Store away from heat and light. Check after 24 hours to see if you need to add any more liquor. You want to keep the fruit submerged as much as possible. Give the jar a gently shake every day or two for two weeks. Your Boozy Apricots will be ready to enjoy after two weeks. They will get better and better with age. Store in the fridge – if they last that long!

Bourbon Cherries

  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 4 or 5 whole allspice berries
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 2 or 3 dried apricots
  • ½ cup dried tart or sweet cherries
  • bourbon

Place the ingredients in order in a glass jar. Top with bourbon, and seal with the jar top. Shake gently every few days. Let it mellow for at least two weeks. Four is better. Check to see if you need to top it off with more bourbon, as the cherries soak up all of that liquid goodness. Taste to see if you want to add some simple syrup. If you used tart dried cherries, you will probably want it sweeter.

Rose Geranium & Bourbon Cherries

Put a very generous layer of pitted and halved bing cherries into a glass baking dish. Add bourbon to a depth of a generous 1/8 inch. Tuck a small handful of Attar of Rose scented geranium leaves into the cherries here and there. Into a 350 degree oven for upwards of 30 minutes. Check on them after 20 minutes, and give them a shake. I crowded the cherries into the baking dish, so they did a combination poach and roast. If you used a larger baking dish, and the cherries had more elbow room, you would get some carmelization. Let them cool to room temperature. Scoop the cherries, remaining bourbon, and rose scented geranium leaves into a glass jar. I topped the cherries off with more bourbon so they were all submerged. Keep in the fridge.

Tipsy Olives

  • green pitted olives
  • a sprig or two of fresh rosemary
  • a sprig of fresh thyme
  • a peeled garlic clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • enough dry vermouth to cover everything

Place all the ingredients in a glass jar with a fitted lid. Mix, cover, and refrigerate. Give it about a week to infuse.

Roasted Tangerines in Sweet Vermouth

  • 3 tangerines cut into eighths
  • enough sweet vermouth (I used Punt e Mes) to cover the bottom of your glass baking dish by 1/8 – 1/4 inch

Pick a baking dish that allows the wedges to lie in a single layer with a teensy bit of room around each wedge. Let the tangerine slices marinate in the sweet vermouth for several hours, turning them over about half way through. Roast at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes. Keep a close eye on them after the 30 minute mark. The more vermouth in your pan, the longer the roasting time. When the vermouth has evaporated, and the wedges are just starting to get dark edges, remove them from the heat. The roasted tangerines store in a glass jar in the fridge for a week or so.

Syrups

Blueberry Fennel Syrup

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar (cane sugar is great too)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup packed bronze fennel leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds

Put the above ingredients in a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Keep at a low simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool, and strain in a clean glass jar. Keep refrigerated.

Ginger Simple Syrup

  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar

Combine the three ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a low simmer. Stir occasionally for a few more minutes, and turn off the heat. Let the mixture keep infusing as it cools. Strain into a clean bottle, and store in your refrigerator.

Juniper Berries, Allspice and Lime Syrup

  • Bring to simmer:
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups organic cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons juniper berries, crushed (find them in bulk spices for less $)
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • Let the flavors mingle and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Strain into glass jar, and keep in refrigerator.

Lemon & Coriander Seeds Syrup

  • Bring to simmer:
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups organic cane sugar (our local Costco sells 10 lb. bags)
  • Zest from 3 lemons – use a veggie peeler or a channel knife
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seed
  • Let the flavors mingle and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Pour into glass jar and store in refrigerator.

Minty Syrup

  • 1 c. organic cane sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. mint leaves

Bring sugar, water and mint to a low simmer in a pot, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat, and let cool to room temperature. Strain the mint from the syrup into a clean bottle. Refrigerate.

Orange Bitters & Rosemary Syrup

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons orange bitters
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • generous sprig of rosemary

Gently heat all the ingredients over low heat for 10 mintes, stirring occasionally. Do not let boil. Let cool and stand for an hour. Strain the rosemary and discard. Pour into a clean bottle and store in the fridge.

Peach & Rosemary Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 2 peeled peaches, diced into bite-size pieces

Bring everything to a low simmer, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes. Cool to room temperature, and transfer to a glass jar, and refrigerate. Let the rosemary steep for another day, and then remove.

Pineapple Weed Syrup

  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup pineapple weed

Bring the sugar and water to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Turn off the heat, and add the pineapple weed. Stir again, and let the mixture completely cool. Strain the liquid, discarding the solids, into a container and refrigerate.

 Rhubarb Syrup

  • 1 pound rhubarb stalks, chopped into smallish pieces
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup organic brown sugar
  • 1 inch section of ginger root, peeled and left whole
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, and simmer on low for 20 minutes or so, until the rhubarb can be easily mashed. Let it cool down to let the flavors develop a little longer. Pour through  a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.  Do not press on the rhubarb. Be patient and just let the clear syrup drip out so your final syrup isn’t cloudy. The contents of the sieve are still filled with rhubarb flavor. Feel free to be creative with them. I’m using some to infuse rum.
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6+ big anise hyssop leaves

Bring all the ingredients to a simmer, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves. Continue simmering, with an occasional stir, for 20 minutes or so. Let cool, and strain into a clean bottle. Keep in the refrigerator.

Rhubarb Honey Syrup

  • 3 cups rhubarb, diced into 1/2? chunks
  • 1 1//2 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups honey

Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a low simmer, stirring frequently. Let simmer for 20 minutes or so, giving it a nice stir more often than not. Smush the rhubarb with your stirring spoon every time you stir. Let cool to room temperature. Strain into a clean bottle and refrigerate.

 Strawberry Basil Mint Syrup

  • 3 cups strawberries – washed, hulled and chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed basil mint, or equal parts basil and mint
  • 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • Combine the strawberries and water, and bring to a low boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the basil mint, and simmer for 10 more minutes. If you want a stronger basil mint flavor, add this component earlier.
  • Strain through a sieve, and return the syrup to the pan. Add the sugar, bring to a boil, and simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture thickens slightly.  Cool and refrigerate.

Thyme Lime Herbal Syrup

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • grated zest of one lime (grate the zest from the lime before you squeeze it for the juice)
  • 1/2 cup fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Mix all the ingredients in a small sauce pan, and stir while heating over medium heat. As soon as the sugar dissolves, remove the pan from the heat. Try not to let it boil. Let the syrup cool and infuse for an hour or so. Strain into a glass jar and refrigerate.

Thyme, Orange & Pink Peppercorn Syrup

  • Bring to simmer:
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups organic cane sugar
  • 5-6 sprigs of thyme
  • Grated zest of one orange
  • 1 teaspoon pink peppercorns, crushed
  • Let the flavors mingle and simmer for 30 minutes.

Triple Lemon and Rosemary Syrup

  • 1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Generous handfuls of lemon balm, lemon verbena and rosemary

Bring the sugar and water to a boil, and add herbs. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Let it all steep together for a good hour. Strain the syrup into a clean bottle, removing the herbs. Refrigerate.

Turbinado Simple Syrup – Place equal parts turbinado sugar and water in a pot, stir, and bring to a boil.  Simmer for a few minutes or until the sugar is all dissolved.  Let cool and store in a clear bottle or jar in the refrigerator.  I like the organic turbinado sugar from Trader Joe’s a bunch.

Vanilla Bean & Cardamom Syrup

  • Bring to simmer:
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups organic cane sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans, split down the middle with the seeds scraped out and put into the mixture
  • 7 crushed cardamom pods (find them in bulk spices for less $)
  • Let the flavors mingle and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Strain and save the vanilla beans in the fridge or freezer for one more future cooking project.
  • Store syrup in glass jar in refrigerator.

The simple syrups should last up to 30 days in your refrigerator.  If you get carried away, and make more than you can use quickly, you can freeze the extra in small glass jars.

Bitters

Cherry Bitters

  • 1 cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup dried, tart cherries
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 whole clove
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon nigella seeds

Combine all of the above ingredients in a clean jar and seal tightly. Let the bitters steep for two weeks. Shake gently every day. Strain into clean bottles.

Local source for apothecary style bottles with glass eyedroppers – Zenith Supplies in Seattle, http://www.zenithsupplies.com

Lime Bitters

  • 2+ cups of Spiced Rum  (or your favorite rum)
  • lemon grass section 4 – 6 inches, chopped small
  • zest of 6 limes
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon hops
  • 1/2 teaspoon gentian
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon grains of paradise
  • 2 tablespoons simple syrup

Place the rum, lemon grass and lime zest into a quart-sized glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Crush the remaining ingredients in a mortar and pestle and add to the rum mixture. Write the date you are starting your infusion on the jar with a sharpie pen to help your memory. Keep in a cool, dark place, but also someplace that you will remember to give your bitters a daily shake.

After two weeks of infusing and shaking, you are ready to strain the solids from your rum mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Your lime bitters will be fine and dandy at this point. Or you can choose to go the distance, and take your bitters to the next level of perfection. It’s worth the effort.

Don’t discard those solids from your infusion. Place them and one cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to a low boil. Cover the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool. Put all the saucepan contents into a covered glass jar of their own. Shake daily for the next week. Strain this through a fine mesh strainer, and add to your rum solution. Add some simple syrup to taste – about two tablespoons. Strain one final time and pour your lime bitters into clean, small bottles.

Rhubarb Bitters

  • 2 cups vodka
  • 1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped small
  • tangerine peel (one fruit)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon grains of paradise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nigella seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon gentian root
  • 2 teaspoons hibiscus
  • 1/2 teaspoon sassafras
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Place all the ingredients, except for the honey, into a quart-sized glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Write the date you are starting your infusion on the jar with a sharpie pen to help your memory. Keep in a cool, dark place, but also someplace that you will remember to give your bitters a daily shake.

After two weeks of infusing and shaking, you are ready to strain the solids from your vodka mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Your rhubarb bitters will be fine and dandy at this point. Or you can choose to go the distance, and take your bitters to the next level of perfection. It’s worth the effort.

Don’t discard those solids from your infusion. Place them and one cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to a low boil. Cover the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool. Put all the saucepan contents into a covered glass jar of their own. Shake daily for the next week. Strain this through a fine mesh strainer, and add to your vodka solution. Add the two tablespoons of honey. Strain one final time and pour your rhubarb bitters into clean, small bottles.

Scented Sugars

Scented Geranium Sugar

To make this scented sugar, I picked four large leaves of scented geranium for one cup of sugar. I washed the leaves, and let them dry overnight. This helps concentrate the oils in the leaves. Then the four big leaves and one cup of sugar went into the food processor. I tore the leaves up quite well first, so I wouldn’t have to pulse as much. I didn’t want to pulverize the sugar into dust. And I used a good quality organic, cane sugar for this. The sugar smells heavenly, and will keep indefinitely in a well sealed jar. For cocktails, it will be a distinctive sweetener, and will create gorgeous sugared rims as well.

Shrubs

Strawberry & Vanilla Bean Shrub

  • 1 cup fresh strawberries (frozen are fine), roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (white is fine, but I am partial to apple cider)
  • half a vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Mix everything in a glass jar with a lid. If your honey is really thick, or has some crystals forming, heat it slightly with the water separately. Let it cool, and then add to the berries, vanilla bean and vinegar. Keep the shrub in the fridge, and shake daily. When you are happy with the taste, strain the berries from the liquid, and throw the vanilla bean back into the shrub mixture. Store in the fridge, and use within two weeks.

 

 

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