Preservation Techniques for Cocktail Bar Produce
Local ingredients can be preserved and used throughout the year for less overall waste and food transportation costs. Additionally, in-season produce is inexpensive and thus buying it in bulk and preserving it is a cost-savings mechanism.
In addition to listing techniques for preserving citrus, herbs, and other produce commonly used at the bar, we'll include some drink recipes that incorporate these preserves, as it's not always obvious how to use them.
- Fermenting and Lacto-Fermentation
- Salt Curing
- Oleo Saccharum and Sherbet
Many types of produce can be dried/dehydrated to preserve them for much longer than fresh ingredients. Some bars due this as a way to preserve an abundance of fresh local ingredients to last many additional months.
- Dehydration General Tips
- Store dehydrated foods in airtight containers, and consider using food-grade silica packets to absorb excess moisture.
- Only put out as many dried garnishes as you need for the day, as they will reabsorb moisture from the environment, and can begin to spoil.
- Produce to Dehydrate
- Dehydrated Citrus Wheels
- Simple instructions for doing them at home/in a standard oven from Rob Hammic of The Perennial in Imbibe Magazine.
- Nicholas Box of Acorn restaurant in Vancouver scores the outsides of citrus wheels before dehydrating. The fresh zest can be used in cordials and other ingredients, and the dehydrated wheels look cool with the scar lines on them.
- Dehydrate pulp leftover after juicing many different fruits and vegetables including:
- Pineapple that can be dehydrated into fruit leather garnish example
- Apples that can be used as a base in most any fruit leather or used on its own
- Celery into celery dust that can be used to rim Bloody Marys
- Dehydrate leftover edible flowers to make powders for garnishes, as did bartender Carley Gaskin. [source]
- Dehydrated Citrus Wheels
- Candying for cocktails usually involves coating something like citrus peels in sugar/syrup and dehydrating to preserve them. Typically citrus is blanched in boiling water and then plunged into ice water several times before candying.
- You can make an oleo saccharum from citrus peels first to create a flavored sugar syrup, then dehydrate the sugary citrus peels to candy them. Technique here. (see picture on this post)
Fruit In Syrup and Maraschino Cherries
Fruit like cherries can be preserved in syrup. Maraschino cherries can be made this way or have added alcohol.
- Nicholas Box uses the Morgenthaler recipe to make cherries, and then uses the syrup in a cocktail.
- Boston’s Seth Friedus shares his basic pickling recipe.
- Quick pickled watermelon rind.
- Bloody Mary-Critical Dilly Pickled Green Beans Recipe
- Brine recipe and a non-alcoholic cocktail that uses it
- Scout’s Blackberry and Pine Wine recipe
- Non-citrus fruit juice such as those from pear, pineapple, strawberry, pear and tomato juice, can be fermented to preserve them to last longer in cocktails, as they do at stillife in Montreal.
- Recipes for fermented citrus juice from stillife in Montreal
Lacto Fermentation is fermentation with salt, traditionally used in foods including kimchi, sauerkraut, and dill pickles. Many bars are now lacto-fermenting different ingredients. More background here.
- Boston’s Seth Friedus shares his basic lacto-fermentation recipe.
- Jennifer Colliau's lacto-fermentation recipe and several vegetable flavor combinations, including a hot sauce recipe.
- According to this story in Liquor.com, Luis Hernandez of consulting company Cocktail Illustrators used "the lacto-fermented liquid from pickled carrots to use in a milk punch to act as the acid".
- Freeze leftover berries and citrus into ice blocks in bundt bans, used for the next day's punch bowls. Seen at: Rickhouse in San Francisco.
- Vacuum-seal your syrups and freeze them, as Aisling Gammill recommends.
Fruit Syrups, Shrubs, and Liqueurs
Fruit syrups are typically fruit + water + sugar, while shrubs are fruit + vinegar + sugar.
Fruit liqueurs use alcohol, fruit, and sugar.
Both are delicious when added to soda water, or can be used in cocktail ingredients.
All these will extend the life of the produce from a week or two up to many months, depending on the amount of sugar and alcohol used. (More = longer.)
Find recipes and information on the Syrups and Liqueurs page.
Oleo Saccharum and Sherbet
Oleo saccharum is a flavored sugar or syrup (the name means "oil sugar") made by placing usually-citrus peels in sugar. The sugar pulls out the peel oils.
For Oleo Saccharum and Sherbet recipes, follow this link to the citrus page.
Typically a cordial refers to a non-alcoholic liqueur. Rose's Lime Juice Cordial is a lime cordial, for example. Cordial recipes are on the Sweeteners page.