Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Make Your Own Infusions

Since I've been canning so much this summer I thought I might also try my hand at making some infusions. Summer canning is partially about having fun, partially about having some delicious food for the rainy, grey Vancouver fall and winter (and spring, too, who am I kidding) and partially about making holiday gifts. I'm thinking that people might be tired of me giving them jam and such (even though my apple butter is the bomb). That prompted me to try my hand at infusing. I think some homemade flavored alcohol might make a nice holiday gift. I know I'd think that's pretty rad if someone gave it to me.

This is way easier than you'll ever guess that it is. Seriously. Even your cat could do this if s/he had opposable thumbs. Though your cat would just infuse everything with catnip, so maybe we're all better off this way, anyway.

You can infuse vinegar or alcohol in pretty much exactly the same way. You can use almost any fruit to do it, too. I bet there are a few veggies that would be kind of awesome in an infusion, too. Cucumber vodka could be really refreshing and delicious, I think. Vanilla beans would also work pretty much the same way as the fruit if you want to go that route.

Step 1. - Choose your weapon. Err... I mean flavor. Try and choose the best looking produce that has the least amount of blemishes. Blemishes can bring bacteria when it comes to preserving food so that's why you want to be a bit more careful about what you're choosing.

Step 2. - Scrub a dub dub. Wash your produce really well. If it's not organic, give it a little splash of vinegar to help get the yuckies off and then give it another rinse.

Also wash the heck out of your jars! Oh yeah, you need some 1 liter mason jars or those cool glass jar things with the rubber seals. Wash these in super hot water. If you have a dishwasher, run it through there on the hottest setting to make sure you've sanitized the glass. Yes, you need to use glass for this. Metal will end up tasting like metal and could put some rust into your final product which is gross either way. Plastic is not your friend, either. Plastic can leech mojo into your final product and I feel like it absorbs flavors. Glass is best. Just trust me on this.

Step 3. - Mix everything together in your newly cleaned jars. You're going to use 2 cups of produce for 2 cups of liquid be it alcohol or vinegar. If you're doing two kinds of things at once, make sure you label things so you don't accidentally give Aunt Edna the gin when you meant to give her the vinegar.

A note about your liquid choices. If you're using vinegar, just get the plain old white vinegar, that's best for this. If you're using alcohol, you can just use the el cheapo brand since your final product will taste like the fruit anyway. That is hard for me to say. I'm a bit of an alcohol snob. I refuse to drink the cheap stuff because it tastes like crap, but this is one exception. You're making it taste better right now, anyway!

Step 4. - Mash! At this point you can either take a wooden spoon and mash the crap out of your produce or you can blend it up a bit. You'll decide this depending on what kind of thing you're using as your flavor. For example, if you're using roasted garlic or cucumbers, you'd probably just want to smush them with a wooden spoon. If you're using berries, you could blend them if you want. It doesn't actually make much difference which way you choose. I tried one batch of blended and one batch of mashed fruit and they came out pretty much the same in the end.

Step 5. - Put the lids on tightly and shake!

Step 6. - Put your jars in a dark place and take them out once or twice a day to shake them. That helps to keep the flavors blending together and makes a better infusion. Usually 1-2 weeks will do the trick.

Step 7 - Strain! I used a jelly bag, but you can use a sieve or some cheesecloth if you want. Strain your shiny new vinegar or alcohol into a super clean glass container. You can use another jar, the original bottle or get some fancy containers, however you want to do it.

The jelly bag in action

Squish the liquid out of the fruit as you're straining it. I ended up almost filling up that other half of the jar with liquid from just what was in that bag.

Step 8. - Sit back and admire your awesomeness.


  1. This is an AWESOME post. I really love both ideas but the vodka one is speaking to me the most, especially as it's OK to use el cheapo stuff (yeah, I'm a bit of a booze snob too.
    These would make great pressies.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Holy amazing - this is SO cool! I'm book-marking this post for sure (and am so excited that I finally have another use for my nut milk bag). Honestly, my mind is so drunk with excitement (hehe) after reading this post, I can hardly sit still!

    PS I'd be more than happy to take some of that home-made apple butter or jam off your hands. Just sayin'... :)

  3. I know exactly what you mean! Once I discovered how easy this was, I can't wait to make more. We had the gin mixed with just some club soda and it was so delicious. I'll probably use vodka to flavor next time, but I had an overflow of gin. I'm also considering how to make my own spiced rum using spices instead of fruit. So easy!

  4. Great post. I like to make strawberry gin for presents, makes for a lovely pink gin and tonic!

  5. Awesome idea! I'm totally making some of these as holiday gifts. :)

  6. I have an inexplicable attraction to things in pretty glass jars and bottles, so these beauties are irresistible to me! Love those vibrant colors, too. They'd make perfect gifts for the holidays.

  7. I made some raspberry vodka & vinegar from the leftover seeds & pulp from my de-seeded raspberry jam. It was sort of an experiment since all the instructions I read said to start with whole fruit. But it worked quite well. I usually seed 1/2 of my fruit for raspberry jam and I couldn't bear to throw all those seeds away with still so much raspberry goodness attached.

  8. i am in LOVE with your blog. im so glad i found in on MoFo.

    this is a great idea for gifts, and looks like allot of fun, im definitely gonna try this out very soon. :)

  9. Jennifer - that sounds like a great idea. I'll have to remember to keep some of my remnants when I'm making jam next summer.

    Amber - Thanks! I like to make gifts for the holidays instead of buying things so I tend to start early. I'm going to try and make a few more flavors, but probably the rest with vodka. The raspberry gin tasted great, but I think I'm going to keep it for myself.

  10. Brilliant! I'm running a bit late but will get cracking on this idea this weekend! Thanks! :-)