DIY Christmas: Fridge pickles and infused booze

Inexpensive, easy-to-make gifts like infused liquor and fridge pickles look extra fancy when delivered in bottles or jars with handmade tags and a bit of ribbon. Another way to increase the fanciness level – make big batches of a few kinds of pickles or spirits, and give a variety.

Refrigerator Pickles
From Little Old Lady Recipes: Comfort Food and Kitchen Table Wisdom

2 tbsp kosher salt
1 cup vinegar
2 lb cucumbers (the littler ones)
4 cloves of garlic
Handful of fresh dill

People usually associate pickles with cucumber, but with this recipe, the cukes can easily be exchanged for carrots, green beans, beets, or even peeled watermelon rinds. If you like some heat, add a pinch of crushed hot pepper. Bay leaves, celery seeds, cloves, and whole peppercorns are also tasty pickling spices.

In a large pot, bring 2 cups water, salt, and vinegar to boil, and let it simmer. While that’s happening, cut up your cucumbers to whatever size you like your pickles. Place them in a large bowl, add the garlic and dill, and pour the vinegar over everything. Cool to room temperature and let them refrigerator for at least a night.

Infused Liquor

Making your own infused booze in a variety of flavors is super simple. First, pick a light spirit like vodka, rum, or gin. Then add something to flavor it such as fresh berries, citrus peels, sliced ginger, or even hot peppers. Let it sit for at least three days (longer if you’re using a milder flavoring agent), shaking the contents a few times daily. Then, when you’re ready, pour the liquor through a fine strainer and bottle it.

If you’re the type who prefers to follow a strict recipe, try this one for lime-ginger rum.

Lime-Ginger Rum (With Instant-Gratification Daiquiri)

750ml bottle of light rum
3 limes
1-1/2 inch piece of ginger

Wash the limes and remove the peels. Cut the ginger in thin strips.

Pour two shots of the rum out of the top of the bottle (and save it in a glass – we’ll be coming back to that). Add the lime peels and ginger, replace the cap, and let sit for three to five days, shaking regularly.

Back to that glass of rum that’s now sitting on your counter. Juice the limes, then pour the glass of rum, 1 1/2 shots of the juice, and 3/4 shot of simple syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and serve immediately. Makes 2.

Now, back to your gift…when the rum is ready, pour it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl or jar, and then use a funnel to pour the infused liquor into gift bottles or jars.

And if you don’t have time to make pickles or spirits but want to toss together a homemade gift quickly, check out 25 Gifts You Can Make Today from Wise Bread writer Camilla Cheung.

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