I am not known for my love of supermarkets and their persistent imposing of unseasonal fruit and vegetable on their customer base who are often unaware of the consequences of this phenomenon. These span from an increase in CO2 emissions through air freight or greenhouse growing to causing food intolerance and allergies as a result of consuming chemically treated produce to wider social impact such as local agriculture job loss resulting from aggressive business strategies imposing untenable prices on producers as well as shunning unfashionable produce and, ultimately, dumbing down customers by offering an unchallenging choice and breaking the link with traditional foods, seasonality and nature.
This, however, is not one of my typical tedious anti-Tesco rants – this is a piece about the homespun joys of fruit infused vodka. So I gave in to temptation when I came across pots of reduced raspberries (in November!). An idea hatched when I recalled a recipe for blackberry vodka from the fantastic Nigella Kitchen, a book that has become my go-to cookbook for simple pleasures and source of a great number of my staple dishes. Later the motion was passed in my little circle of friends to give each other home cooked delicacies. I knew which Sheffield home this bad boy would be heading to this Christmas.
Needless to say the bottle of raspberry vod was right up Kim’s street. I too was instantly taken by its inoffensively sweet, fruity flavour, and chuffed that I managed to achieve such rich pink colour without resorting to food colourings. This vodka can – and should – be drunk neat, following a brief spell in the fridge. Make sure good vodka is used so you don’t end up regretting the effort in the morning. In fact, someone described this as dangerously tasty, perhaps likening my lovely creation to alco pops. In any case I assume a degree of maturity in my dear readers; please know your limits and all that.
This is a fantastically versatile recipe and can be altered to suit most tastes – this could just as well be made with blackberries as Nigella suggests, blueberries (cutting a cross on them Brussels sprouts style would help the infusing process), strawberries and even rhubarb, cherries or damsons – in short anything juicy. Mixing cocktails is a doddle since flavoured vodka makes various fruit syrups redundant – not to mention the drudgery of drinking boring vodka and coke. So I recommend a foraging trip in the summer, or using up garden bounty, and making the fruits of summer go a long way. Sipping on raspberry vodka at Christmas or on New Years Eve will for a brief moment transplant you to a season gone – or ahead of us soon enough.
Put the raspberries and sugar into a large kilner jar that will fit all of the ingredients and pour in the vodka. Shake it like a polaroid picture (sorry) until all the sugar has dissolved and stow away in a cupboard. During the first week the vodka will need a good shake daily, in subsequent weeks a weekly shake will do. Allow at least 6 weeks for full infusion.
When you are ready to decant sterilise the original bottle or a prettier container (psst – I wouldn’t insist on this, we’re talking about alcohol after all) and strain the vodka into it through a sieve to avoid pips spoiling the result. Hang on to the raspberries – they make a fantastic boozy Eton mess.