If you enjoy of martinis or Manhattans, you probably have a couple of bottles of vermouth on your bar cart. If you're a lover of a fancy aperitif, you probably have more. These fortified wines are a lot of fun but, due to their lower ABV, they don't last forever.
Photos by Claire Lower
People seem to have a hard time agreeing on just how long vermouth stays good for - some say it lasts one month in the fridge; some say three - but once you notice your cocktails are tasting a little "off", it's time to replenish your supply with a fresh bottle. The old, oxidised bottle, however, needn't be tossed.
For one, you can cook with it, and use it to deglaze pans or add oomph to sauces, just as you would wine. ("Bad" vermouth isn't going to poison you, it just doesn't make the best cocktails.) That's a fine use, but I like to get a little fancier, and use the slightly-oxidised, but still serviceable booze to infuse some tasty fruit.
Just as with these pineapple peels and these cherries, the process is a simple one, whether you let everyone hang out for a few days on the counter or use an immersion circulator to speed up the process. Just slice up your fruit of choice - I went with blood oranges because they're pretty - toss 'em in a jar, and pour your old vermouth on top. If you don't have a sous vide set up, just let your jar of booze and fruit sit at room temperature for a few days, gently shaking it every once in a while. If you do have a circulator, set the jar down in a 85C bath for an hour, then chill and store in the fridge.
There's no need to strain anything - the longer it sits in the fridge, the more infused the fruit becomes - just pluck the infused fruit from its jar any time you wish to add a bit of boozy juiciness to a drink or dish. These oranges obviously make great cocktail garnishes, but their quite good when added squeezed over light pasta and seafood dishes, or simmered with sauces and soups for a hint of complex acid.
This is part of Eating Trash With Claire, a Lifehacker series where Claire Lower convinces you to transform your kitchen scraps into something edible and delicious.