Holiday Gifts, Homemade Bitters, and Other Tangents

Grapefruit Bitters and Pomelo Gin

A Way to Garden Radio – I recently appeared as a guest on Margaret Roach’s weekly podcast to talk about Holiday gifts to make using plants and things gleaned from the garden. Click here to listen for free. To get your Holiday gift giving started, Margaret is giving away two garden-themed tees from our shop, so head over there to get your name in the running to win.

You Grow Girl Garden Tees

New Gardening Tees – Speaking of gardening tees, we have two new designs available in the shop. The first is an oldie, Microfarmer, that we’ve brought back in new colours. The second, Soil Power, is a tribute to the soil web and was inspired by an old soul music compilation called, Soul Power! Both designs were hand drawn by Davin and are available in women’s and unisex sizes.

Citrus Bitters and Spirited Infusions – Still on the subject of the radio show, Margaret mentioned making bitters. At the time, Davin had plans to make up a big batch of citrus bitters for himself and to share with friends. Well, he did follow through and the big jar in the photo (top of page) shows what it looks like in progress. He loosely based the ingredients and process on a Grapefruit Bitters recipe in the book, Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas by Brad Thomas Parsons, but with his own alterations. I like the idea of bitters more than their taste, which makes me cringe and pucker my face a little. However, their use and history is quite fascinating and the making part is creative and fun. It is essentially what I do when I make infused spirits and tinctures, but with more ingredients and a stronger bite.

Davin recently purchased a pomelo from our local greengrocer and decided to add some of the peel to his vodka-based concoction. Pomelo peel is a lot like grapefruit but with a very fragrant, floral smell and taste. He cut away the excess white pith and finely chopped the peel before infusing. There was a little left over so I used it to make Pomelo and Orange Infused Gin. I was concerned about the bitterness of the pomelo for my taste so I added an equal amount of peel from a sweet orange. No citrus peel shall go unused! I simply added the peel to a small, clean Mason jar and poured in enough gin to drown it. Like all of my infusions, the jar is kept in a cool, dark room and I shake it when I remember, which is usually daily. Because my tastes do not run with the bitter-loving crowd, I removed the peel as soon as there was a hint of citrus, but before it took on the scent of a household cleaner. It makes a good, simple gin martini or reverse martini with more vermouth than gin. Shaken, not stirred.

Pocketbook Sale – On yet another tangent, the digital download of my pocketbook, Drinking the Summer Garden is on sale today for $6.99, reduced down from $9.99. This too includes recipes for making spirited infusions that if made in the summer months are ready to be enjoyed around the Holidays.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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5 thoughts on “Holiday Gifts, Homemade Bitters, and Other Tangents

  1. Hi Gayla, I went to BYOB recently to pick up some of those great large ice cube trays and was surprised to see that they have devoted a large part of the store to bitters.
    Too busy at the moment to make any myself, also short of space to store them, But I was very inspired. Love the idea of making my own.

  2. Hi Gayla, I made homemade soaps this year with a friend that has done it before and was willing to give me a hand! They are cut and curing in a cool dark place! We used lavender, calendula and rosemary as some of our ingredients! Can’t wait to see how they came out!

    • Good for you! Impressive. I’ve made glycerin soaps, but have been wanting to make oil-based soaps for years — I’m afraid of the lye so I keep avoiding. I even went so far as to buy ingredients about 15 years ago, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. You are giving me new hope.

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