There are plenty of ways to make the most of an autumn harvest of fresh berries and fruits. One wonderful way to enjoy their vibrant flavours is by infusing them in alcoholic spirits to make drinks that can be a highlight of the festive season. You could enjoy these infused spirits yourself around Christmas time, or give them away as seasonal gifts.
What is the Difference Between an Infused Fruit Spirit & a Liqueur?
The first thing to understand when making fruit infused alcoholic drinks is whether you are making a fruit spirit or a liqueur. The difference is simply that infused spirits use only fruit and whichever alcoholic drink is being used as a base, while liqueurs include sugar along with the fruit. Spirits which are simply infused with fruit are often unsweetened since they are to be used in cocktails which will include sweeter ingredients, while liqueurs will have their own sweetness.
What Home Grown Fruits Can Be Used To Infuse Spirits?
There are a wide range of home grown fruits that can be used to infuse spirits. These may include:
Though these are just some of the many options. Many of these fruits may be grown in or near your polytunnel. If they are, you should consider using some of the berries and fruits for this purpose, as well as enjoying the harvest in a range of sweet and savoury recipes.
Which Spirits Can Be Infused With Home Grown Fruits?
You can use a wide range of different spirits as a base for your fruit infused drinks and liqueurs. Consider, for example:
- Blackberry infused whisky/ whiskey
- Sloe gin
- Plum vodka
You will find many recipes online which will help to reach a decision as to which spirit to infuse with the fruit or berries which are available to you.
How To Infuse Spirits
There are several different ways to infuse spirits with home grown fruits. The easiest ones, possible for most home growers, are the following:
In this method, fruits are chopped and used to half fill a kilner jar which is then topped up with the chosen spirit (and sugar if this is to be used). The jar is sealed and left in a dark place for anything from a month to two years, depending on the ingredients used.
This method speeds up the extraction process by heating the ingredients. You don’t need a expensive sous vide machine and can undertake this process relatively easily on the hob. You will need a zip lock bag (silicon options are great). Air is sucked from the bag containing the spirit and the berries or other fruit and then placed in a water bath for an hour or two.
Do you have a favourite way to infuse spirits with home grown fruits? Have you any favourite recipes for fruit infused spirits or liqueurs? Let us know in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.