Monday, September 1, 2014

A Whole New Meaning for, "Fruit Cocktail"

I apologize to my friends on the Nall's staff.  We've been chattering about doing this post for a few weeks now, and they've been anxious to see what I could do.  Okay, here goes...

Don't think that you need to eat all of the contents of your crop share box.  You know, you can actually drink them as well!  And no, I'm not referring to juicing, either.  Let's talk adult beverages.  The quality and freshness of the contents of your box will really shine forth in cocktails.  Trust me, I've most certainly tried!

This discussion started when the big bunch of mint came out in the crop shares a couple of weeks ago.  We were talking about what to do with it, beyond making lamb, when the obvious answer came forth:
Photo via

Mojitos!  It's really simplicity itself.  Lime wedges, muddled with simple syrup (one part water, one part sugar) and mint leaves.  Use about 3 lime wedges and half a dozen fresh mint leaves.  Add equal parts light rum and club soda, and half as much fresh-squeezed lime juice.  Such a summer classic!  But in my book, there's a better mint option:
Photo via

Yes, that's a mint julep.  We think of those more in the spring, particularly during Kentucky Derby weekend.  For me, they're a reminder of trips to New Orleans and the all-night revelry those excursions entail.  (Not to mention watching sunrises in Cafe du Monde, burning my fingers on hot Beignet and my mouth on hot chicory coffee.  Ah, what an end to an evening...)  The mint julep is simply mint leaves muddled with just a little simple syrup, add bourbon (don't be stingy) and ice.  Some like a splash of bitters as well, but I'm more of a purist.

The rightful place for peaches behind the bar would be in a bellini, which is simply puréed peaches topped with Prosecco or another dry, sparkling wine.
Photo via

Another option I've stumbled across was this take on an Old Fashioned, "garden style."  I'm definitely putting that one on the list.

Those, plus everything else
Then again, the simplest answer is usually the best.  Any fruit you have, any time of year, can make a great sangria.  Sangria is just wine, chopped fruit, and a touch of brandy.  Start with a bottle of your preferred variety of wine.
Photo via Conde Nast

Yes, white wines work extremely well too.
Photo via Rachel Ray

Add in about 4 oz of brandy (again, don't use cheap stuff, but don't waste the Louis XIII either).  Chop fruit into small cubes and let it all marry together in the fridge overnight.  Serve over ice.  Mmmm...

The great part about sangria is that experimentation is heartily encouraged.  Traditionally, some sort of citrus was one of the fruit ingredients.  Of course, you can use anything you can think of.  For me, it's a great way to use up fruit that gets soft.  Based on what fruit you use, you can also switch out brandy for something else, such as Grand Marnier, dark rum, amaretto, limoncello, Chambord... you get the idea.

Photo via

One last little option I'd like to show to you.  Rumtopf (literally, "rum pot") is a very old-school German tradition.  It involves a ceramic pot (or you can use glass jars), and over the summer any excess fruit gets cut into pieces and added to the container.  In addition, add sugar equal to the weight of the fruit, then completely cover the fruit with rum.  As summer wears on, the jug gets filled.  Once summer fruit comes to an end, the jug is stored in a cool, dark place until around Christmas time.  The flavors of the fruit plus the extra fermentation creates a wonderful cordial.  Be careful, it will be very delicious and hardly taste of alcohol at all, but the contents are at least the same proof as the rum you used, if not a little more.  I take half of mine and put it in small, decorative bottles for gifts.  The rest, well, Frohe Weinachten!

1 comment:

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