Saturday, 18 June 2011

Making your own drinks

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?

14 comments:

Robert said...

I've made a variety of drinks from elderflower cordial to fruit flavoured with mint/ginger and lemongrass. Then there's the traditional standby lemonade which can also be flavoured with rhubarb juice as I always have excess juice after cooking stewed rhubarbs.

Robert said...

Sorry

*fruit juice flavoured with*

Anonymous said...

My Grandmother ALWAYS made lemonade (as in a lemon cordial to be diluted), which always went down well. I've tried to keep up the tradition as it is SO easy to make, but have sometimes struggled getting the Citric Acid. (Strangely enough - as a little only lady with white hair, she never has problems.)
I also made a Passion fruit cordial once, but that didn't go down as well.

siobhan said...

Schnapps schnapps and more schnapps! I started out with the rhubarb one from Nigella and have now done apple and vanilla, greengage and plum. All really tasty but very strong. Lovely after a meal but not so good after a night at the pub when you think "just one more won't hurt!"

Fiona Beckett said...

Ah, that fatal 'one for the road' Siobhan - or rather 'just a little nightcap'. Never wise but the rhubarb schnapps does sound good. Must consult Nigella.

It's a shame these old drinks have gone into decline, anonymous. Never tried buying citric acid. I guess it's just a question of finding an old-fashioned chemist. Susy didn't mention it was a problem in the book.

And lovely idea blending lemonade with rhubarb juice, Robert. I always think I like the juice better than the rhubarb itself!

Kavey said...

Aah this may be a good book for me. I've made a few drinks myself, but now we have an allotment I want to make more!

Joy said...

Wilkinsons usually sells citric acid, if you have one nearby. It's in the brewing and bottling section.

Fiona Beckett said...

Ah - that's a useful tip, Joy. We have one opening near us in Bristol early August so I shall have no excuse (other than lack of space) to get bottling! And nor will you, it seems, Kavey.

Anonymous said...

Citric Acid you can buy from any chemist. The difficulty I had was as a student, buying it from a chemist attached to Asda, they made me sign the Dangerous chemicals book and I could only buy a certain amount. Apparently some kids had been sniffing it? Hence, strangely enough, my Grandmother (little white haired old lady) wasn't even asked - they just sold it to her! :) Wilkinsons is a great tip! Thanks.

Crumbs said...

We did a post recently on making your own teetotal drinks and it was so popular. Mint and lemon cordial struck me as being easy and delicious. Apart from Belvoir fruit cordials, non-alcoholic drinks seem to be undiscovered territory for food and drink companies.

Fiona Beckett said...

@crumbs that's a great post. Here it is for the rest of you http://crumbsfeedyourfamily.blogspot.com/2011/05/soft-drinks-for-grown-ups.html

Sarah said...

Wow, there's a yummy sounding recipe for chilli popcorn over there.

I love the sound of these home-made drinks and the ones on Crumbs' blog. I may have a bash this summer once school's out and I can get my head together.

Fifi said...

MM, I could use a frugal drink right now! They are always so darn expensive, thanks for the tips!

Fifi @ Fififrugality.blogspot.com

Fiona Beckett said...

@fifi glad they're useful. Nice blog. Liked the post about what you bought recently and how you planned to use it. What frugality is all about ....

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