Cranberry Infusion

Plate of Frozen Cranberries

Frozen cranberries about to be dehydrated

I am responsible for very few things when it comes to holiday meals. Cranberry sauce is one of those few things.

A good cranberry sauce is deliciously tart and often has a sweet underbelly, which I suss out with a bit of brown sugar and orange rind. A stick of cinnamon and pour of Grand Marnier usually ends up in the mix. Any of these fall-to-winter staples make for a good addition.

If you’re like me, you buy more cranberries than you need, and they end up in the freezer. I’ve taken to dehydrating the cranberries (cutting once, lengthwise, to speed up the process) to free up space in my freezer, and I find they infuse quite well from that state. Of course, you can use fresh as well.

Cranberry Gin Infusion

Dehydrated cranberries and dry gin, turning pink after mere minutes.

At some point in time I may try this out with the cranberries you find at bulk food stores, which is likely to produce a much sweeter—potentially more popular—version.

Cranberry Infusion

IMG_0103Add 375ml of dry gin or a mid-range vodka to a jar of roughly 40 dehydrated cranberries.

If preparing from fresh berries, score the skin to quicken the infusion. Doing so also gives you a chance to once-over your lot and discard any mushy, unfit berries.

Infuse at room temperature for a minimum of 1 week before straining to remove berries.

You can go festive by adding some crushed cinnamon stick and orange rind. Use a very small amount of each and avoid the orange pith (the white part between rind and flesh), which will add too much acridity to this already tart infusion.

There is no shortage of cocktails where this cranberry infusion is right at home. If you go the vodka infusion route, a good choice is a Cosmopolitan martini:

  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, or Cointreau
  • 1 oz cranberry infused vodka
  • Juice of half of a lime
  • A small splash of cranberry juice

Just add the ingredients together in a shaker with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a twirl of lime zest. For a bit of sweetness, rim the glass with lime and sprinkle lightly with sugar.