Howarth Corked Bottles: perfect for infused spirits, oils and vinegars
With the arrival of summer, it has never been easier to explore the world of preserves. One of the easiest ways to get started is with flavoured spirits, oils and vinegars, and there are so many options for these that the enthusiastic cook will be spoiled for choice. Wares of Knutsford have just launched a new range of Howarth corked bottles, which are perfect for this type of preserving.
Infused Spirits in corked bottles
When people think of homemade spirits, sloe gin is the one that usually comes to mind. Nothing could be simpler than making it. Just pick the sloes once they’ve ripened, usually towards the end of September, wash them and place them in corked bottles with gin and plenty of sugar. Turn the bottles every week and by Christmas, the sloe gin should be ready.
Sloe gin is just one flavoured gin, however. All sorts of seasonal fruits can be used to make infused gins, such as rhubarb, elderflowers, raspberries, plums and blackberries. Herbs too make excellent gin flavours. Mint and ginger are great in gin, as are fennel, lavender and lemon verbena.
For a non-alcoholic version, fruit cordials are a delicious summer thirst-quencher. Elderflower is a firm favourite, but many other fruits are suitable for cordials and offer a way to use up those inevitable summer gluts. Fruits need to be strong enough to be diluted and still taste good, so apple is best avoided. Blackcurrants are a good choice, as are plums later in summer. For a winter cordial, try Seville oranges for a slightly less sweet drink that will keep for up to 3 months.
Flavoured oils and vinegars
Another easy step into the world of preserving is flavoured oils. Starting with a good-quality oil, it’s possible to create an enormous variety of flavoured oils simply by adding herbs, spices, nuts or even citrus fruits. Using traditionally-styled bottles with corks, it’s possible to create unique gifts for Christmas or other occasions. Sourcing the freshest spices and home-grown herbs will give the best results. Ideas for infused oils include chilli flakes, rosemary, basil, garlic and lemons – although not all in one infusion, of course!
Infused vinegars are also amazingly easy to make, with seemingly endless choices. Try fennel with orange, for an exciting taste that is perfect splashed on green salads. A berry vinegar, using blackberries, blueberries or raspberries, with a few leaves of fresh mint thrown in too, makes an incredible-tasting vinegar. Again, using the Howarth bottles with corks for this project, these vinegars make inspired, thoughtful gifts.