Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Infusions to make the heart glow

Left to right:

Sumac vodka
Apricot bourbon
Black currant gin
Red currant gin

In general, this year, I have used much less sugar in the infusions. Very little, in fact, and none in the red currant. I am still wild about the black currant's complex flavor. The sumac is astringent, and excellent for cocktail-mixing.

A rough recipe for sumac vodka is as follows - it depends on how much you're making:

Enough fresh, ripe (bright red/orange) sumac to fill a jar
Enough vodka to cover

Use smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) if you can as you'll have no hairs to strain out, after. With scissors cut the smaller branchlets from the thick green parts. Remove as much green as you can - these turn the vodka bitter. Pack a clean jar to the top with sumac, and cover with vodka (I like the Polish-made Wodka, or Stoli). Leave for two weeks and strain. You can leave it longer but it will become more tannic.

The Frenchman, who dislikes bourbon, likes the apricot bourbon best, then the austere red currant gin.

But they're all pretty good.

I think I'll play with apples and quinces when fall really hits its stride.


  1. Beautiful, Marie. Black currant is indeed so funky! I also love the Japanese plum "wine" (it's really vodka) that I steep for the better part of a year.

  2. Brings to mind the sloes and damsons an old Guernsey friend did delicious things with...

  3. "The Frenchman, who dislikes bourbon..." Say it ain't so, Vince!

    Down here in Virginia, the first drink of choice is Maker's Mark, but I'll now know not to send you a bottle of that fine Kentucky product for a house-warming gift once you guys make the transition--which, I am certain, will be for the better..

    1. Well, maybe he likes Maker's Mark, because that's what I used for the apricots (don't beat me!).

  4. Patricia Wells in her book "At Home in Provence" has a recipe for Bachelor's Confiture that is made with eau de vie and only fruit with pits, which, she says, lends a nutty flavor to the concoction (brings to mind your apricot jam with the pits added). They break down more slowly than more delicate fruit. She layers the different fruit, which she says can be added as they come into season, and sets it aside for at least two months. She suggests putting a small amount of the fruit in a bowl (or glass) with some of the liquid for an after dinner drink or over either ice cream or plain cake for dessert. And while you wait for it to ripen and "cure" it is so beautiful to look at. I don't know why I've never done it!

    Nancy Mc

    1. Love Patricia Wells.

      Her recipe sounds like the one that started this whole business for me in the early 90's - Roger Verge's confiture de vieux garcons...probably versions of it all over France, and Europe.

      I make it with cherries, too, and wild black cherries, and find the pit-flavor to be very strong - almond essence-y, from the cyanide in the kernels.

      The legendary 'It' in my family was exactly as you describe it.

      Now, I like currants best of all.

  5. ps I have slowly worked my way through your book. It really is a work of art, so beautiful, but so useful too, with all the wonderful recipes. I also like the addition of your humorous asides in the recipes. A great job, Marie!

    Nancy Mc

  6. Mouth watering, Marie. I am regularly checking out my secret sloe sites in anti......cipation : )


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