Sunday, July 11, 2010

Intensifying Flavor

Word of the summer season is tincture – a concentrated flavored liquid traditionally captured in an alcohol or in combination of water base. We all use at least one pretty regularly and it is right there in your cupboard, vanilla extract.

It seems very season I get a bee in my bonnet, and cannot seem to get away from an idea. The last couple of years it was desiccation…and I have a shelf of seasoned salts and sugars infused with the likes of loveage, rose, coriander and lemon verbena. But this year I am feeling a bit more liquid. It is all due to the incredible growing season we are having here in the northeast, and the most fragrant lavender I have ever seen here – with my eyes closed and nose open I am in Provence walking through a fields redolent with this regal plant.

No, I am in downtown Manhattan shopping amongst un-naturally tall buildings with prices that reflect the soaring altitude of the architecture. Hauling my perfumed canvas bag filled with the gift of a hot, sunny season I have started stuffing jars. So far, I have a sorrel, lavender, lemon verbena and black mint. I am using vodka and a mix of pure grain alcohol and water. Sitting quietly on a bottom shelf in my kitchen this growing collection will have to wait a few months for being decanted, filtered before they find themselves being employed. There are a few cocktails that going to be shaken; a quince cake in the waiting and a Moroccan-style stew that is definitely getting the treatment.

Sorrel Tincture
3-1/2 ounces sorrel stems – minced
1/2-cup vodka

Snuggle the sorrel stems into a clean pint jar. Pour over the vodka, and secure with a lid. Let the mixture sit in a cool, dark place for 4 months. Then strain through a fine sieve.

Store the tincture in a glass jar.

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