It is always shocking when I see Christmas decorations in the shops. The glittering balls and shiny tinsel are a glaring reminder that the year is nearly over – when it feels like only yesterday we were celebrating its start. In our fast paced city, gardening helps slow things down. Especially when we utilise our garden ingredients in all aspects of our lives – including Christmas presents. Nothing says “I Love You” as much as a homemade gift and even more so when the gift is also home grown.
Home Grown Liqueur
A home made liqueur is an unusual and dead easy gift to make. Fresh herbs, vegetables and spices added to alcohol will quickly infuse it with their flavour. Mix and match different flavours, pop it in an unusual bottle, add a hand written label and voila, bottled Christmas Spirits.
How to make
Vodka is a good choice as it is almost flavourless. Gin, tequila, sake and light rum can also be used. Darker alcohol (brandy, port and dark rum) is good for fruit like cherries, plums and apricots.
⌲ Wash and dice the ingredients.
⌲ Place inside a wide mouth bottle.
⌲ Cover with alcohol and seal.
⌲ Store in a cool, dry place and shake every day. Infuse for one to ten days, tasting until it reaches the strength required, then strain and decant. (As a general rule, the more intensely flavoured the ingredient, the shorter the infusion time. Hot chillies can take a few hours to infuse, whereas melon will take up to ten days.)
⌲ Drink it on its own or use as a base for a delicious cocktail. Here is a recipe to get you started:
⌲ 2 tots elderflower and strawberry infused vodka
⌲ 1 – 2 tabs vanilla flavoured sugar syrup (boil vanilla bean with two parts sugar to one part water until the sugar dissolves. Leave for a few hours for vanilla to infuse and strain.)
⌲ Good squeeze of lime
⌲ Top glass with crushed ice and soda water.
Some flavourful ideas;
⌲ Beetroot infused in vodka makes the most brilliantly coloured drink with an autumnal earthy flavour. Try it mixed with sugar syrup infused with turmeric root and ginger. Top with soda water and a squeeze of lime
⌲ Infuse apple, cinnamon and nutmeg in brandy and use as a base to make an Apple Pie cocktail
⌲ Licorice root, anise hyssop and fennel seeds in gin not only tastes delicious but is also a good after dinner digestive.
⌲ Jalapeno in tequila is a quick one to make – simply poke some holes in the jalapenos and leave to infuse overnight. Delicious in margaritas.
⌲ Jalapeno infused beer is a delightful surprise – poke holes in the jalapeno and pop into your beer. The bubbles will help infuse the flavour very quickly and the ice cold beer is followed by a hot jalapeno bite. Yum.
⌲ Melon and mint in rum takes mojitos to a new level
⌲ Infuse Asian lime leaves, lemon grass and jalapeno in sake and use it to make a martini
⌲ Infuse horse radish in vodka and keep it in the freezer to give a Bloody Mary an extra kick
⌲ Infuse raspberries and blackberries in dark rum and drizzle it over ice cream or Christmas pud.
Christmas will never be the same again!