By Phran Novelli
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —– Sprigs of herbs and other garden goodies can help you turn all kinds of liquids into great gifts.
Infuse some booze — add fresh herbs, roots, fruits or even citrus peel to vodka, rum, or any alcohol you choose, for a week or more. Then, strain out the plant parts and add a tag detailing that this drink is now a “minty, mojito-ready rum,” “very cherry vodka,” or whatever whiskey — and include a cocktail recipe.
For friends who don’t drink but do eat, you can infuse olive oil instead — with things like garlic, chives, or chilis — for drizzling on bread, marinating meats and making salads.
For safety’s sake, make these gifts at the last minute, use completely dried herbs or peppers, strain them out, and put a label on the bottle telling friends to refrigerate the oil and use it within 10 days. Or you can infuse vinegar instead, which is also yummy and has much less chance of going bad or growing botulism, as oils at room temperature can. For more details on infusing oils and safety, go to http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09340.html.
Or make a simple syrup. Melt a cup of sugar in a cup of water along with sprigs of mint or basil, then cool and strain. Use it to sweeten tea, mix a flavored fizzy with seltzer, or drizzle over desserts.
And package it prettily. Pour your present into a beautiful bottle and make a lovely label saying that the flavors inside grew in your garden.