Harvest! That is today’s theme. Over the past several weeks, almost all of the herbs have gotten so bushy and overgrown that there was no way I’d ever be able to use them all. This week I began a few projects to preserve my bounty, starting with the peppermint, lemon balm, and cayenne. With these three, I decided to make infused vodka. First, I hacked off a ton of mint and lemon balm:
I searched the internet and found a recipe for peppermint liqueur and used those proportions to start infusing three cups of vodka with peppermint and another three cups of vodka with lemon balm. I’ll add some amount of sugar (probably less than the recipe recommends) when they finish infusing in a week or two. Currently the infusions are in bowls in my basement, but I bought some glass bottles in a variety of shapes at the Container Store that they’ll go into eventually.
For the cayenne, I found a rather hilarious account of one guy’s attempt at making pepper vodka. He said:
My first attempt at pepper vodka used 750ml of Luksosowa and three fresh cayenne peppers fresh from Chainsaw Mick‘s garden. Within three days the vodka had turned green and was spicy enough to kill a lesser man. I enjoyed every drop of that vodka in a succession of my own patented “filthy” martinis, the recipe for which follows, until I got to the dregs. It seems that capsaicin, the active heat ingredient in chili peppers, is both alcohol soluble and heavier than vodka. The last martini from that bottle nearly killed me, but through generous applications of ancillary oral analgesics (shots of Jim Beam) I managed to get through it. Brendan’s prior experiences were similar, so for this new iteration we chose to employ the mild and flavorful poblano chile.
Well, I don’t have poblanos. I have cayennes, the first of which just turned red (yay!). And rather than using a whole bottle of vodka, I want to make about 4 ounces. And I want to leave the cayenne in permanently, because I think it will be pretty. In other words, I am making something lethal:
I don’t think any of my other herbs would make a good infusion. Lemon balm was even stretching it, but I figure it could be a sort of limoncello-like thing once sugar has been added. But I’ve never heard of, say, rosemary vodka or sage vodka (and contemplating dill vodka or chive vodka makes my stomach turn). So for all my other extra herbs, I have purchased….
A food dehydrator!!! Yes, I have channeled my inner 70-year-old midwesterner and purchased the Nesco American Harvest FD-61 Snackmaster Dehydrator and Jerky Maker (but I bought it at the Friendship Heights Sur La Table, channeling my not-so-inner yuppie). I currently have sage, dill, oregano, and a few more cayennes dehydrating in the kitchen.
The last bit of harvest? The very first red tomato. A few of the cherry tomatoes started to turn this week, and I was going to let them sit on the vine until a few more ripened. But one of them split open in a recent rainstorm, so I had no choice but to devour it solo.
I ate it with a tiny basil leaf wrapped around it. Deeeeelish.