Put down your fork and get out a glass, because a new book will inspire you to, as its title puts it, Drink the Harvest.
From juices and teas to ciders and syrups through wines and mead, this how-to tome will have you swirling elixirs made with currants, cayenne or chamomile and raising a glass to the Greenmarket — or even, as one chapter is entitled, “Growing a Beverage Garden.” The practical guide includes tips and steps on everything from steam extraction and absorbic acid to cider presses and sediment straining. The authors will soon have you forswearing store-bought beverages as you master the likes of DIY tomato juice, rose hip tea, tart cherry syrup and, before you know it, heirloom potato wine.
Here are two easy but beautiful recipes that will make your cup runneth over.
There’s so much liquid inside fresh strawberries that converting the berries to juice doesn’t take as long as with other fruit. Plus the flavor takes an unexpected turn when the berries cook: They lose their cloying sweetness and become a subtle and satisfying drink or mixer. The flavor is actually a little tart, like cherry juice. Kids and adults alike enjoy this bright crimson juice, which is lovely straight or diluted in a glass with ice and club soda or water.
Makes approximately 3 quarts
Prep time: About 2 hours
4 quarts fresh strawberries (8–10 pounds), hulled
1. Put the strawberries into a large nonreactive stockpot, and then add filtered water to barely cover the fruit. Bring the contents to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring and mashing or blending the berries as they cook. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking, and skim off any foam.
3. Line a large colander with two layers of cheesecloth that have been dampened with filtered water. Set the colander over a large bowl, making sure that the colander sits well above the bottom of the bowl so the juice can flow freely.
4. Slowly pour the hot strawberry liquid into the cheesecloth-lined colander.
5. Let the juice strain for at least 1 hour. Do not squeeze or force the strawberries through the cheesecloth, or the juice will become cloudy.
The taste of mint has never been so perfectly fresh and sweet as in this syrup. Add it to iced tea, lemonade, mint spritzers, mojitos, mint juleps, sangria or other wine punch, or even hot chocolate (with a splash of peppermint schnapps for the adult version). Or add to homemade fudge sauce before spooning it over ice cream.
You can also use this recipe with, basil, lemon balm, bee balm, lavender, orange blossom, or rose hip. Herb syrups taste even more special with a little added honey.
Makes 1 pint
Prep time : 1 hour
2 cups filtered water
1 cup mint leaves, washed (or other herb, see headnote)
2 cups sugar
1⁄8 teaspoon ascorbic acid
1. Bring the water to a boil.
2. Place the mint leaves in a small bowl, and pour the boiling water over them. Cover and steep for 20 minutes.
3. Strain the liquid into a saucepan to remove the mint leaves.
4. Add the sugar and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam.
5. Remove from the heat.
6. Add the ascorbic acid and stir.
7. Pour the contents into sterilized containers and refrigerate or seal.
This syrup can be used immediately or stored in swing-top bottles for up to a year with ascorbic acid added, or six months without it. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks after opening.
Both recipes adapted from Drink the Harvest by Nan K. Chase and DeNeice C. Guest, published by Storey (June 2014).