‘Infuse’ reveals the art of painting flavors on blank liquid canvases

Infuse_coverYou might have a whole pantry full of infused vinegars and spirits, or you might simply enjoy a slice of cucumber in your ice water, but many of us practice infusing in the kitchen without realizing it. It’s a culinary technique with endless uses, and even if you’re a cocktail-making professional with homemade Irish cream and bloody mary mix, you could probably use a little guidance or inspiration for exploring this world of melding flavors.

Eric Prum and Josh Williams’ new book “Infuse: Oil, Spirit, Water” (Clarkson Potter, $25) is the perfect vehicle for learning more about, to use the authors’ metaphor, painting on these three blank, broad canvases. The book includes recipes for spiced pear liqueur, roasted pineapple mezcal and peach bourbon (that’s the spirit that launched Prum and Williams’ journey down this infusion road in the first place), as well as international-inspired nonalcoholic concoctions such as a Calabrian chili oil or a salted lime syrup that you can use to make a tangy Thai soda.

Contrary to the typical hot-water approach to making tea, the authors advocate a cold-brew style used in this summer berry hibiscus tea recipe because it reduces some of the astringent and bitter notes that hot water can bring out. Feel free to use any mixture of berries or other summer fruit you’d like.

Summer-Berry-hibiscus-tea-pg-151--1-Summer Berry Hibiscus Tea

One of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh fruit. Give juicy strawberries, raspberries and blueberries a good home in this hibiscus tea.

3 cups water
3 Tbsp. loose-leaf hibiscus tea
5 strawberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries

Add all ingredients to a 32 oz. Mason jar. Seal and shake to combine.

Refrigerate for 4 hours. Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth and serve over ice, garnishing with additional berries. The tea will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

— From “Infuse: Oil, Spirit, Water” by Eric Prum and Josh Williams (Clarkson Potter, $25)

Author: Addie Broyles

Food writer for the Austin American-Statesman and Austin360.com.

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