Artisan vinegarArtisan vinegars are a hot item at farmers markets, in stores, and in tasting rooms. They’re also one of the easiest and most inexpensive condiments to make and a great way to use up fruit while preserving your aromatic herbs like basil, marjoram, tarragon, cilantro, oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. DirectionsStuff a sterilized (hot boiling water) ball jar with your favorite blend of herbs.
Fill to the top with a vinegar of your choice: white, rice, or balsamic, or a combination of vinegar and white or red wine.
Bruise the herbs slightly with a wooden spoon, cover the container, and store in a dark, cool place at room temperature.
Stir or shake the concoction every couple of days. Your vinegar should be ready by Christmas or sooner. Strain out the solids by pouring through a coffee filter fitted inside a funnel and decant into decorative bottles.
A note: some recipes call for refrigeration during and after the infusion or curing; others recommend simply a cool dark place.
Peach Cinnamon Basil VinegarTry the above vinegar recipe using 2 parts cleaned and peeled peaches with one part fresh cinnamon basil and a couple of cinnamon sticks.
The longer you let it set, the more pungent and earthy it will become.
Use a splash of it in place of lemon juice called for in dressings and dips, sauces and cocktails.
PEACH GINGER SHRUBShrubs are the relative new kid on the bartending block and are simply an infusion of fruit, sugar, and acid. In general, shrubs use equal parts macerated fruit, sugar, and vinegar or alcohol, although proportions vary according to recipes and tastes. Experiment with your own mixture of sweet, tart, and fruity.Ingredients4 medium peaches1 C sugar1/3 C grated fresh ginger1 ¾ C white balsamic vinegar½ C apple cider vinegarDirectionsChop and mash peaches, ginger, and sugar together. Cover and set for 24 hours or longer.
Add vinegar. Cover and set for at least a week.
Strain and discard solids and return to a cool dark place. Cover and set for another week.
Seal in sterilized bottles with a clean cork or sterilized lids.
Serve with sparkling water or white rum.
CRÈME DE PECHE (Peach Liqueur)For those who hanker for something a bit stronger, consider peach liqueur or, more poetically, crème de peche. Alcohol, in this case vodka, acts as a solvent, pulling both flavor and aroma from the peaches. Making homemade liqueur is all about process: preparation, steeping, separating, decanting, bottling, and—perhaps the most important ingredient—time, the great alchemizer that transforms earthly ingredients into heavenly nectar. Here’s a simple way to get your own bootleg operation started.Ingredients2 large peaches, skinned, pitted*, and sliced to maximize surface to vodka1 C vodkaZest from one lemon¾ C sugar¾ C waterOptional: A couple drops of yellow food coloring for a peachier color.*(Some people prefer to leave the pits in so that the mixture acquires the almond flavor that the pits impart.)
DirectionsCombine peaches, zest, and vodka, preferably 100 proof to absorb the peach flavor.
Seal, shake, soak and store for one week. Keep away from direct sunlight.
Strain out solids through a fine mesh sieve or through 2 layers of cheesecloth. Discard solids.
Heat the water and sugar together just until sugar is absorbed.
Combine sugar mixture with peach mixture.
Store in the refrigerator for two months before serving. It will, however, keep indefinitely.
Decant into a sterilized favorite bottle and seal with a clean cork or sterilized lid. Store in the refrigerator or in a cool, dark place.
This makes about 2 cups of liqueur which can be used as a glaze for chicken or fish, served over grilled fruit, over ice cream or cake, or mixed with club soda. And of course, it can also be enjoyed when served in tiny cordial cups or brandy snifters after an elegant candlelit meal. Enjoy the sunlight now while you can. And when you can’t, enjoy it in a bottle. Cheers!