For me, it’s a sure sign that summer has arrived when fresh, local cherries hit the fruit stands. Not only is this a defining moment, it’s a tasty one too. So it couldn’t have been more appropriate when my husband showed up with three big bags, fresh from the orchards in Emmett about 30 miles from Boise, on the first day of summer.
He was excited to have brought me so many cherries with visions of me making jam or a dessert (after I ate myself sick on the fresh ones, of course). I’m not sure what it says about me when the first thing I did was grab the vodka.
Last summer I went through quite the vodka infusing stage. There was always a line up of canning jars on the kitchen counter with various fruits or herbs soaking, and truthfully, I don’t see this summer being any different. I like flavored vodkas – they are perfect with a splash of tonic over ice on a hot day, and they are fun to incorporate into more extravagant concoctions. And while I like the purchased varieties, 1) they can be expensive, 2) they are almost always clear, and 3) it’s back to that whole thing of loving to experiment and see what I can make myself.
To the first point above – expense – the beautiful thing about infusing vodka is that you certainly don’t have to, or want to for that matter, break out the top shelf stuff. When I asked the guy at the local liquor store about it, he said that he infuses spirits all the time and while he might not go for the complete bottom shelf, one shelf up from that is just fine. I’m typically spending under $15 for a half gallon and often use Burnett’s (although that’s not what is shown in the photo above – I had to grab what was available for this go around).
I wonder why most commercially made vodkas are clear? I love the dark, rich red color imparted by the fresh cherries. It seems to not only add authenticity – proof that real fruit was actually used – but also great color.
And finally, to the point of experimentation, it’s a little chance for me to put my stamp on the food and drink I produce, it’s a great conversation starter when folks drop by and it’s a way of preserving that first taste of summer well into the fall and winter. Well, if it lasts that long. Cheers to the arrival of summer!
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