Berry-Infused Liquor

Erik, Mae and I went to the Portland Farmer's Market yesterday.  This dahlia bouquet wowed me, and I brought it home.  Also, I picked up a couple of the most flavorful Brandywine heirloom tomatoes you can possibly imagine.  The tomatoes in my garden are still tiny, but they are plentiful at the farmer's market.

On the way home, I decided to stop at a farm store and I picked up a half flat of marionberries.  I was wanting to make some raspberry-infused vodka, but I wasn't able to find any raspberries except at the u-pick places.  Me pick?  No, when I see u-pick, it figure they mean it literally . . . YOU pick.  (I guess it depends on which side of the wallet you're standing on.)  In any case, since I couldn't find any picked raspberries, I settled on the marionberries.

Surprisingly, I managed to avoid eating all of them on the way home, and so I was able to follow through with my plan to make some infused vodka.  Nothing could be easier.  Here's how you do it:

Place about 2-3 pints of berries (any thin-skinned berry such as blackberries or strawberries will work) in a large jug.  Pour a fifth  (750 ml) of vodka over

so that all of the berries are submerged.

Cover and allow to sit unrefrigerated for 24-36 hours.  Then, strain the berries out of the now infused vodka, reserving the vodka in a large bowl.

Use a flat spoon or a spatula to press lightly on the berries so that you extract as much liquid as possible.  The berries will have given their all now, so you can discard them.  (If it bothers you to discard them, you can lay them out individually on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze them.  You'll end up with vodka-soaked frozen berries that make nice little popsicle bites on a hot day.  In my experience, these will just be thrown away later, and so I don't do this any more.)

Once you've extracted the liquid from the berries, use a funnel to pour the liquid back into the vodka bottle.  (I try to find vodka in glass bottles . . . just personal preference.)  Now you have a beautiful berry-tinged fifth of vodka.  You can also do this with gin, or try good quality white rum, which will give a sweeter, rounder flavor.  Other ideas are to infuse peeled and chopped ginger, citrus fruits, vanilla beans, hot chili peppers, lemon grass, or mint.  You can do it with blueberries, but they are best crushed first.  You can also use this method to infuse other kinds of liquids, such as iced tea or apple juice.  Whatever you try, you should refrigerate it after you've made it.  It will keep for several weeks.

What do you do with berry-infused vodka?  You can drink it straight if you're built that way.  I don't happen to be that tough.  I like it mixed into any cocktail that uses vodka.  My favorite is to use it to mix a Lemon Drop cocktail.  For a Lemon Drop mix

1 1/2 oz. vodka (infused or plain)
1 oz. sweet and sour mix
Dash fresh lemon juice


4 comments from clever and witty friends:

Kritta22 said...

Those berries look yummy.
So I joined the quilter/cat owner club!!! Her name is lizzy. She's a little kitten, grey and black.

Marls said...

That sounds divine. I must make some when berries are in season here. Hot summers day. sitting on the back deck, sipping it from that cocktail glass!!

quiltzyx said...

My BFF's mom used to make a berry cordial. I don't know what liquor she used, but once in a great while she would let us have a tiny taste of it over ice cream....

Snoodles said...

I was captivated by the line where you got some Brandywine tomatoes...I had some of those in my garden. They really did have much better flavor than the up-to-date varieties, in my opinion!