There are hints everywhere that fall is coming. More yellow is appearing on the trees. The big blue stem is getting that end of season shaggy look before it goes to seed. The cattails are fully formed and the summer berries have given way to August fruit. We now have chokecherries, high bush cranberries, and wild plums in abundance. Every year when we go south we try to bring a gift for the various places we stop. I decided people have had enough wild rice and local jams and honey. I am making fruit infused vodka. The recipe is very simple. Start with a wide mouthed jam jar and loosely pack in some fresh fruit. Pour over 1/4-1/2 cup of sugar, depending on how sweet the fruit you start with is, and then pour over the fruit 100 proof vodka. The jar then has to sit somewhere handy and be shaken up once a day. Sugar will dissolve into high proof alcohol but very very slowly. After 6-8 weeks the infusion is finished. The alcohol takes on the fruit flavor and sweetened and slightly thickened by the sugar.
I have made this recipe in the past and I had great success with apple and cinnamon. So this year I made two jars of apple cinnamon using cinnamon sticks and I substituted honey for the sugar. Honey also dissolves very slowly and gives a warmer flavour. A little jigger of this in tea in the evening is lovely. I also made a jar with lime, and orange. If I have any liquor left I’ll try a lemon one. Those all came out very nicely last year and they form a lovely mix for soda when company is over or can be sipped straight as a liquor.
This year I decided to try with local wild berries. I have a jar of Saskatoon berries where the sugar has nicely dissolved. I have started a chokecherry jar. Since I am mildly allergic to chokecherries I will gift that somewhere we are passing through quickly. Tonight I picked wild plums a little on the tart side and those will be alcohol preserved as soon as they are nicely ripe. I would prefer to wait to let them ripen on the tree but the birds are too fast for that. As soon as the fruit is even marginally ripe they feast on it. When ripe these plums are a deep red almost purple. The ones I picked are red but more to orange and they are really tart. I think as a gift they will beat wild rice.