Tag Archives | drinks

How to Make Your Own Tonic Water

Regular Food in Jars contributor Alex Jones is here to with a how-to post designed to help you make tonic water syrup! A fun DIY project for an August weekend. – Marisa

When hot weather comes to Philadelphia, that’s my cue to pick up a bottle of gin — because there’s no better quencher at the end of a long, hot bike commute or gardening session than a bright, herbaceous gin and tonic.

In recent years, I’ve started investing in better, locally produced gins to make my favorite summertime cocktail: bottles of Philadelphia Distilling’s Bluecoat and Palmer Distilling’s Liberty Gin are made in the city; Manatawny Still Works’ Odd Fellows Gin is produced about an hour outside Philly in Pottstown. All three are delicious in a crisp G&T.

With quality craft gin, homemade seltzer (thanks to my secondhand SodaStream), and fresh-squeezed lime juice, I found myself just one ingredient away from a truly bespoke cocktail: homemade tonic water.

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How to Make Elderflower Cordial

Regular Food in Jars contributor Alex Jones has stopped by (on her birthday! Happy day, Alex!) to show us how to make elderflower cordial with fresh, foraged elderflower blossoms. Read on to see how easy it is to make your own batch! – Marisa

Freshly picked elderflowers for elderflower cordial

As an apartment-dweller who loves plants, I’m lucky to live in a neighborhood rich in community garden spaces. I can count a dozen community gardens less than a mile from my home in West Philly; I currently tend plots in three of them.

The garden I’ve been with the longest is one of the oldest in the neighborhood, built on the site of a demolished apartment building down the block from where I live. It’s been around for a few decades, and the common spaces have been planted with perennial fruit trees and shrubs that have had lots of time to establish.

While the peaches, plums, and figs never seem to ripen, our sour cherry tree, gooseberry bush, and kiwi berry vines are prolific. We also boast a specimen of one of the most exciting (to me) perennial fruits: An elderberry bush.

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Blood Orange Shrub

prepping blood oranges

I’ve been thinking about making a blood orange shrub since they first rolled into my local markets. After all, their ruby color just screams to be made into a fizzy drink. And though I went crazy for shrubs (also known as drinking vinegars) last summer, it’s been months now since I stirred up a batch.

juicing blood oranges

Though I’m sure I’m not the first to turn blood orange juice into a shrub, I didn’t see much out there on the internet to guide my hunch. So I re-read the technique for cold brew shrubs laid out by Michael Dietsch on Serious Eats and adapted to suit my needs.

I juiced 4 blood oranges, which yielded 3/4 cup of juice. Out of blood oranges, and wanting to get to a full cup of juice, I also sliced and squeezed an aging navel orange that had been rolling around the crisper. Despite looking a little desiccated, it served admirably and provided the needed volume.

blood oranges

I combined the 1 cup of juice with 1 cup sugar and let them sit until the sugar was entirely dissolved. This took about an hour (I did give it a quick stir every time I walked by, to help things along). Once there were no visible signs of granulated sugar in the juice, I added 3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and stirred it all together.

blood orange juice

The recipe I was adapting from used a 1:1:1 ratio for the juice, sugar and fruit, but I chose to use a bit less vinegar so that the delicate flavor of the blood oranges wasn’t drowned out by the brute force pucker of the vinegar. I’m happy with the results, as the finished shrub is wonderfully assertive and fruity.

finished shrub

My favorite way to use this shrub (which I just store in the fridge, cooking does bad things to blood orange juice) is to simply combine a couple soup spoons full in a glass with sparkling water. Though I haven’t tried it yet, I do believe it would be really good with a splash of gin.

I also imagine it has a world of possible applications in cooking. Imagine deglazing a pan of chicken with this shrub instead of some wine. Instant blood orange chicken (follow that sauce up with a dollop of blood orange marmalade to emphasize the flavor).


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