It's not as though I've avoided going berry picking, but it wasn't one of those common summer activities in the homes of my childhood (northern Texas and central Illinois). I actually think it's a great idea: pick the berries you want - I like the smaller, more tart ones - and save a few bucks in the process by doing some of the farmers' work. So we made it out to Pelkey's U-Pick Berries over in Charlotte, VT, and picked away.
|My smallest batch of vodka infusing with blueberries.|
Our total haul was a bit over 2 lbs, for which we paid a bit over $10. After freezing some and eating some fresh, I decided a fresh blueberry vodka infusion would really round out the mix. I've been on a bit of an infusion kick this summer, infusing vodkas with basil, cucumber, kiwi (the kiwi was not as tasty as I would have hoped), and watermelon. Some worked better than others, although I can say without hesitation that the blueberry has been my favorite so far.
For those of you who are new to infusing, it basically goes like this: Take your well-washed flavor of choice, combine with vodka or another liquor, seal it up tightly, and throw it in the refrigerator. Keep it there for 1-2 weeks, shaking gently every day or two, and then consume. I know fellow infusion lovers who infuse at room temperature and/or keep their infusions blending for longer; but I'm a little paranoid and generally don't like to keep fresh produce around for that long (regardless of the preservative effects that vodka seems to possess). Plus, a good infusion is just so darn tasty that it goes quickly at gatherings with friends.
One of my favorite ways to use blueberry vodka is to make a blueberry lemonade martini. It's super simple, ultra refreshing, and it looks pretty too, which is a bonus for the eat-with-your-eyes crowd. The recipe can also be poured up over ice and topped with seltzer or iced tea for a bit more thirst quenching power.
Makes 2 cups
2/3 c. blueberries, rinsed well
2 c. vodka (Note: Top shelf quality isn't necessary, but a good middle-of-the-line vodka is worth the expense)
1 clean glass jar with airtight lid, or bottle with stopper
Combine the blueberries with the vodka. Tightly seal, and place in your refrigerator. Gently shake every 1-2 days, and serve after 1-2 weeks. To serve, pour the vodka, being careful to leave the blueberries in the bottle. Blueberries can be discarded after the bottle is empty.
Blueberry Lemonade Martini
Makes 1, easily multiplied
2 oz. blueberry vodka
2 oz. homemade lemonade (check out the Simply Recipes blog for a great formula)
4-5 fresh blueberries for serving
Fill a martini glass with ice, and then top with water until very full, in order to chill the glass. Add 1 cup of ice to a cocktail shaker, then add blueberry vodka and lemonade. Shake very well - if you're using a metal shaker, a thin frost should appear. Empty the water and ice from the chilled martini glass, and pour the beverage into it. Garnish with blueberries on a cocktail stirrer, or let them sink to the bottom of the glass.