If your idea of a good time is sitting outside listening to the birds chirp and watching your garden grow while sipping a fruity, boozy drink then infused vodkas are for you.
I first read about infusing vodkas in the cookbook "How to Be a Domestic Goddess" by Nigella Lawson. Her rhubarb schnapps recipe caught my eye. Living in Maine rhubarb is one of the first things to pop up in the garden and this was a new way to preserve it.
I've been tinkering with infused vodkas ever since. I tend to focus on seasonal fruits but my Finnish friend told me wonderful stories about herbal infused vodkas that pair beautifully with fish.
You need three simple ingredients- fruit, sugar and vodka.
Plus big glass jars. I don't recommend plastic. The easiest jars to repurpose usually contained a vinegar based product so wash quite a few times. Otherwise you'll end up with this slightly vinegar note that is so disappointing.
It's a bit of a balancing act and a mystery how much sugar to add. If you are super serious about the process- keep notes but remember you are working with natural ingredients and there will always be variation due to weather and growing conditions. In general, I use more sugar because my favorite way to enjoy is to sip from a glass filled with vodka, a slice of citrus and lots and lots of ice. I found if I skimped on the sugar it has a raw taste. If the infusion is too sweet I can tone it down by adding seltzer, juice or water to dilute.
Strawberry Rhubarb Liquor
1 lb rhubarb chopped and 1 cup sugar
1 lb strawberries and 1/2 cup sugar
Combine fruit and sugar in a large bowl and mix to coat fruit evenly with sugar. Put in glass jar, fill with vodka. Shake. Store in cool, dark cupboard for at least 6 weeks. Strain into a pitcher and pour into a fancy bottle. Viola- perfect holiday gifts and what a treat it is to sip summer fruit on a snowy winter's night.
If you keep vodka and sugar on hand you are ready for whatever is in season is in season. You don't have to make big batches, have fun experimenting with flavors and combinations in small jars.
And finally the trash- I composed my rhubarb and strawberry bits, the strawberry baskets I'll see if my local farm can reuse them first or compost or recycle. The vodka bottle can be returned for my bottle deposit and the sugar bag will get recycled. That's not to bad for waste.
Happy infusing! I'd love to hear about your adventures and combinations.