In all the time I've been writing about frugal food I've never thought of making my own drinks. Actually, I lie. I did post this idea for an apple lemonade a couple of years ago and very delicious it was too which makes my lack of interest in the subject even more lame.
If I'd had Susy Atkins new book 'How to make your own drinks' before now I might have been better motivated because it's full of brilliant ideas for cheap healthy, mainly non-alcoholic drinks you can make from seasonal gluts of fruit and vegetables. Or even - and as a townie without a garden this appeals to me - by bartering with others who have gardens or allotments in return for bottles of your finished potion. (You may get the better deal out of this.)
For those of you who feel nervous about the idea - and frankly I was a little too - the book is packed with clear and reassuring instructions about sterilising and sealing bottles and troubleshooting tips. Maybe start with drinks that can be made and drunk almost immediately like lavender lemonade (lovely for this time of year) and fruity ginger ale then progress to ones that need a bit more skill and patience like nettle beer, plum wine and mead.
Many drinks can be made for free from hedgerow ingredients - sloe and damson gin being the obvious examples - but I also love the sound of Susy's Crème de Mure (blackberry liqueur) and homemade rosehip syrup which apparently has higher levels of vitamin C than citrus fruit. ('Kids adore it' she says.) You can also make perfectly good drinks from frozen fruit which can sometimes be cheaper than fresh.
All in all this book a is good investment - with the added bonus of being a fun way to create your own delicious drinks. A great diversion, I'd have thought, for the forthcoming school holidays . . .
Have you ever made your own drinks and if so which ones?