When it comes to fruit we love our five a day. A squeeze of fresh orange juice to get things going, chopped banana to add interest to our morning porridge, some grapes, a plum or juicy nectarine to snack on when we get peckish and of course there’s always the obligatory apple to keep the doctor away. But there are other ways we enjoy nature’s bounty. Like mixing them up with spirits. As well as making an essential and rather tasty addition to our cocktails, fruit has bags of other uses, such as making infusions, pimping up our drinks and adding a flourish to desserts.
We were treated to a Fruitdrop fruit delivery box and asked to come up with a few simple ideas to use up left over goodies at the end of the week. Not that should be a problem with the hand selected apples, oranges, pears, grapes, plums, bananas, kiwi fruit and nectarines found in the boxes – honestly, the produce is absolutely first-rate. But it’s not just about the quality, the company makes things even easier by offering office fruit delivery in London. Great news for when we’re feeling virtuous during the week but just in case you and your co-workers haven’t munched your way through the lot come Friday, make sure you take a few pieces home with you to try these devilishly good ideas out at the weekend:
It’s easy to add a delicious and personal touch to cocktail recipes with homemade infusions. Here’s how:
Although you can create all sorts of wonderful infusions with any spirit, including rum, gin and tequila, we suggest getting started with vodka. Why? As a neutral spirit it allows the fruit to really show off its natural flavour. You don’t have to go mad on a super-premium vodka but neither should you go for anything too cheap and cheerful. Try something in between like Russian Standard, Smirnoff or Absolut for best results.
As far as preparation goes, for tough-skinned fruit such as bananas, pineapples mangos, kiwis or melons, remove the skin then chop into small pieces. Softer skinned fruits such as peaches, plums and apples simply need to be washed then chopped up into smallish chunks and for berries, all you have to do is remove any greenery, wash and leave whole.
With the prep out of the way, place the fruit into a screw top or Kilner jar (make sure its thoroughly sterilised – a hot spin in a dishwasher does the trick) and top up with the vodka. Give the jar a little shake and leave in a cool, dark place to impart its fruity goodness for a few days – three to seven should do the trick but taste every day to check (you’ll know when it’s ready). When it is, strain through a muslin cloth to remove the fruit and any impurities. Decant into a sterilised bottle and it’s ready to add to your cocktail recipes. These homemade infusions are great to sip neat, over ice or drizzled over some ice cream for an indulgent dessert.
Forget twirly, girly paper umbrellas and a boring slice of lemon in your G & T, there are some nifty ways to use fruit to add extra visual appeal, not to mention aroma, to your cocktails. A thin slice of apple, pear or peach looks fantastic perched on the rim of a Martini glass (if you’re really fancy, try arranging into a fan); segments of mandarin and clementine make original alternatives to lemon in long drinks and for something totally tropical and fun, combine grapes, pieces of banana, a raspberry or anything else that tickles your fancy on a cocktail stick for a flamboyant finish.
Long and refreshing
Adding a fruity touch to your favourite cocktail recipe couldn’t be simpler. Take the Mojito, simply muddle up the fruit of your choice with the basic spirits and sugar before topping up with soda water. Grapes, blackberries, apples, kiwis, its up to you. And don’t be afraid to experiment. With cocktails it’s all about what you like.
Perhaps the most elegant of all cocktails is the Martini. It’s evolved a lot over the decades since it came into being some 100 or so years ago. No longer just a combination of vodka or gin and vermouth you can can add fruit to enjoy a softer and more diverse alternative. A little muddled pear or peach in the shaker gives fruity depth to the drink. And a little twist of any citrus peel gives any Martini an extra zing.
Simply and celebratory
We all like a glass of fizz, whether for a celebration or just to make a get together feel a bit more special. There’s no need to splash out on Champagne as prosecco or Cava work just as well. Add a little homemade fruit syrup to a Champagne flute or a muddle a little rich fruit such as peach or plum, then top up with the fizz.
Devilish good desserts
If you have a few bananas or plums left over at the end of the week, transform them into one of the simplest, tastiest desserts by peeling (for bananas) and splitting in half before layering in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with demerara or muscovado sugar, cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, a few drops of vanilla essence (or better still, the real thing scraped from a vanilla pod) and a healthy splash of rum (spiced rum works well here. Try something like Bacardi Oakheart or Captain Morgan’s) and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve with a good quality vanilla flecked ice-cream.
Our favourite fruit cocktails
Fruity Collins or Mojito
40ml rum or homemade fruit flavoured vodka
Fresh fruit such as plums, bananas or berries
5ml spoon caster sugar
10 ml fresh lime juice
Muddle the fruit with the sugar in a tall glass. Add the rum or vodka together with the lime juice, then fill the glass with ice cubes and top up with the soda water. Garnish with a little more of your chosen fruit.
40ml homemade fruit-infused vodka
Fresh fruit to complement the infused vodka
10ml lemon juice
10ml sugar syrup
Muddle the fruit in a shaker. Add the other ingredients and some ice. Shake really vigorously then double strain into a chilled martini glass.
Fruity ‘Champagne’ Cocktail
1 kiwi fruit
1 small handful of fresh strawberries, chopped
Sparkling wine or Prosecco
Scoop out the inside of half a kiwi fruit, add chopped strawberries and muddle together. Add the mixture to the bottom of a champagne flute and top with sparkling wine or prosecco. Garnish with a slice of kiwi fruit and a whole strawberry .