When it comes to garnishing your G&T, the recent move over to goblet style copa glasses has given you a larger ‘real estate’ space to play with. Thinking back to when your choices were limited to lemon and limes (or if you were lucky some grapefruit) things have certainly evolved, which makes us very happy! Hendrick’s gin started the trend when they launched their ‘most unusual’ gin encouraging us to garnish with cucumber wheels or spirals. It was the first real revolution of garnish in G&T, and just look how far we’ve come since.
The possibilities are endless in terms of fruits, flowers, herbs and spices that you can add as a garnish to your G&T, much like the choice of botanicals in the gin itself. Have you ever, however, considered the use of a dried garnish rather than fresh?
Dried garnishes have a number of advantages. They’re easier to store than fresh fruit, last for a long time (especially if you’re able to vacuum seal them!) and means you can use up all your fruit before it goes off.
Well, pretty much all of them, though some will produce better-looking results in comparison to others, and keeping it obvious, certain flavors pair better with a G&T. We’re still to find a gin that pairs with dried banana!
Due to the differences between these types of fruit, you’ll need to dehydrate some for longer than others. These factors include the thickness of the slices of your fruit, temperature, humidity, water content, and the type of fruit that you’re dehydrating. Approximate timings are therefore included for some fruits below; although please note we've given you a range as this is not an exact science and it depends on the time of year, type of equipment and where you are in the world!
So let's get going!
Citrus wheels will dry out to form stunning garnishes. Slice them nice and thin so that the flesh becomes almost transparent after dehydration allowing the light to shine through. Examples include lime, lemon, orange, grapefruit, blood oranges (drying blood oranges is a great way to prolong their use as they have a short growing season). Approximate timings: 5-8 hours.
Tropical fruits like pineapple, mango and passionfruit can add exotic notes to your G&T. They’ll take around 10-18 hours to dry out due to a high water content.
Berries are a bit of a tricky one due to their structure. Strawberries work best as they’re easy to slice, and will take 7-12 hours to dry out. For other berries such as raspberries and blueberries, you can dehydrate them whole, but you’ll need to leave them for much longer.
Pome fruits (including apples and pears) are like citrus - slice them thinly enough and once they’re dried the light passing through them will produce a stunning effect. They’ll take 7-16 hours depending on the variety (there’s a huge difference in water content of different varieties)
Wash the fruit, and for citrus make sure that you’ve lightly scrubbed the skin to remove any wax.
Get yourself a really sharp knife or a mandolin (careful with your fingers, use a guard for the mandolin if you have one) and cut the fruit into slices around 1/8th of an inch thick (3-4mm). A mandolin will help you to be consistent with the thickness of your slices.
The easiest way to do the dehydrating itself by far is to get hold of a purpose made dehydrator. It’s then simply a case of arranging in a single layer, setting the temperature and timer and turning on. Dehydrators are able to operate at lower temperatures and circulate the air more effectively. The best way to dehydrate fruit is to go low and slow, to ensure that the structure of the fruit is preserved. This is especially important for the more delicate fruits like strawberries.
However, if you’re not going to start a home production line for dehydrated fruit to supply all of your friends and family, shelling out for a dehydrator is probably a little silly. And it is possible to use your oven at home, it just takes a bit more time and preparation.
Firstly, make sure you’re not going to need the oven for the next 10-18 hours or so, depending on what you’re dehydrating! Place your fruit in single layers on a metal rack over a baking tray to ensure air is able to circulate across both sides of the fruit. Turn your oven on to the absolute lowest setting it can be, and make sure you choose the fan setting if your oven has one. Then simply pop your garnishes in there and wait. Turn them now and again and remove once they’re dry.
There are a number of ways to store your dehydrated fruit once you’ve made it:
Easy - Put in airtight jars and store in a cool, dark place.
Medium - Put into freezer bags. Ensure as much air as possible is removed, wrap tightly to completely seal and put in the freezer.
Hard - Vacuum pack them (but you’ll need access to a vacuum sealer!)
If the fruit you’re dehydrating has bitter elements (like the pith and skin of citrus fruits) then you can cover them with sugar syrup before dehydrating. This will ensure they’re not as bitter. They’ll also crisp up nicely (it’s really important to dehydrate low and slow if you do this though!).
Add herbs and spices (dried) to the fruit before dehydrating to produce dried fruit with extra flavour. Think cinnamon apples, chilli pineapples etc. Just don’t go too heavy, as you don’t want to overpower your G&T.
Originally written by Emma Stokes www.ginmonkey.co.uk
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