The holidays are busy enough as it is — making some flavor infusions to keep stock in late November and December is a great strategy.
We made up an infusion of peppermint and of holiday spices and we keep each in our refrigerator to put together quick drinks. These infusions allow us to use whole ingredients with the convenience of a commercial extract.
For the spice infusion, we simply combined holiday spices we had on hand and simmered them for an hour or so as we cleaned the kitchen. We covered the mixture and left if overnight in our cold kitchen before moving it to a storage bottle the next morning. The mixture included cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cardamom pods.
In the case of peppermint, we filled a saucepan with peppermint from our garden (though I have seen it fresh in the produce area of grocery stores) and covered it with water. We brought it to boil then reduced the heat to simmer. We let it simmer for 30 minutes, covered, and then let the infusion sit all night covered before we strained out the peppermint and poured the liquid into a storage bottle.
The strength of your own concoctions will vary — simply taste as you go in using these infusions in your drinks and other creations so that you end up with a satisfying treat.
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