I love celebrating the flavors of the season both in their natural form but in ways that keeps them around a bit longer too. I personally love experimenting with infusing in liquor because it does not expire quickly. I often use vodka, which has been cultivated to be neutral in flavor and color in most cases. It’s perfect to absorb and showcase the essence of fruit, herbs and vegetables. My home pantry tells the tale of my madcap antics in the form of abundant Mason jars in various stages of creation!
It’s citrus season and though that is not a Colorado crop we are fortunate to have Snowbird relations who flee to warmer winter regions and share the bounty by shipping us boxes of fresh orchard fruit. An accidental snafu on a recent order left us with triple the usual gift and an avalanche of fruit desperate for quick eating. Not knowing a small colony of scurvy victims I was forced to put on my creative culinary hat to start several projects simultaneously to save the uber ripe tangelos and grapefruit.
My mind is all about Valentine’s Day right now and a light, fresh, seasonal infusion seemed fun. Three of the five tiers in the gargantuan delivery box were of tangelos, as large as a newborn baby’s head I might add. Their tender, sunset-hued flesh was bursting with delicate perfumed juice turning a room instantly to an ode to springtime with the first rip of peel. I realized a meager jar of Tangelo-Cardamom Vodka was not going to make a huge dent, or a dent at all, but I was inspired so two tangelos were contributed for the cause.
When infusing liquor I always consider the flavors involved to come up with a winning combination. In this case the tangelo was very lightly flavored and sweet with the chance to be overwhelmed by stronger liquor or heavy botanicals in something like gin. I also did not want to risk the potential bitterness of the peel or pith so removed that before infusing. Pairing with vodka was the right choice and the result was a light elixir, simple and lovely; perfect for Valentine’s Day.