Did you know that cucumbers can cool blood and reduce swelling, erase pen ink, keep glass from fogging and clean surfaces without streaks? And if you eat it? Well! It eliminates bad breath, assists with hang-overs and provides you with 13 vitamins and minerals. Hooray for the mighty cucumber. They even have a National Cucumber Day in the United Kingdom in June.
Ok so it’s November, but cucumbers are a favourite snack in my home (for 3/4 of us) and make an excellent addition to beverages. I found a wonderful recipe for a vodka infused cucumber ginger fizz from Martha Stewart which you can find here. I revamped to create something refreshing and sweet without the need for more cucumber the next day to treat any over indulgences. (Unless you love cucumbers like I do, then by all means enjoy them the next day!)
The original version instructs on how to make a cucumber infusion – giving an hour to have the flavours blend. Since cooking cucumbers in syrup is not an option here, two options present themselves: infusing cucumbers in water or sparkling water, or muddling cucumbers into a cold simple syrup and then straining the ingredients.
As the other two flavours are both strong — lime and ginger— I tested all options to see which would provide the best cucumber flavour against the true recipe. In order to compensate for the slower infusion rate of the cucumber in sparkling water or regular water, I gave each three time the infusion time of the vodka. Then created the recipe as directed and taste tested each.
Interestingly enough, there was very little difference between the drinks. The drinks are made with mostly sparkling water and all the flavours are very subtle. So I tried again but made smaller sizes, with the same amount of the flavouring ingredients (infusion, syrup, lime) and just less soda water.
Much more tasty and the differences between drinks was a little more noticeable.
Muddling the fresh ingredients in simple syrup and water gave the drink a bit more kick from the lime and ginger (I used three small slices each of ginger and cucumber) gave the drink a more earthy taste and a slight opaqueness to the drink. The infused version had a sweeter flavour, more clarity and tasted more like a refreshing pop. For all the drinks, the ginger and lime flavours came out stronger than the cucumber, while the cucumber lent more to the aroma and nuance of the drink.
I used soda water for my infusion and the salt added a stronger note to that drink than plain water or vodka, however the initial fizz from the soda water was long gone after the infusion process. The vodka infusion was easily replaced with any of the other infusions making this drink easy to adapt to a virgin recipe without a loss in flavour.
So the verdict? Both the muddling and the water infused options were my favourite of the bunch. I definitely recommend making the drink with the more concentrated recipe.
Fresh Cucumber Ginger Fizz – Muddling Method
- 2-3 slices ginger root
- 3-4 slices cucumber (depending on thickness of slices)
- 2 Tbsp simple syrup (1:1 water to sugar)
- wedge of lime (1/8 lime)
- soda or sparkling water
- extra cucumber
Create garnish by slicing cucumber along length with a peeler and cutting into thirds. You will need one to two slices depending on the size of your glass. Fill glass with ice and drop cucumber slices in around edge.
Squeeze lime into glass and drop wedge into top of glass. Top with soda water (3-4 oz). Muddle ginger and cucumber in cocktail shaker with simple syrup. Strain while pouring over the ice. Stir and serve.
Sweet Cucumber Lime Fizz – Infusion Method
- 1 cucumber
- 2 Tbsp cucumber infused soda water (see below)
- 2 Tbsp Martha Stewart’s ginger simple syrup
- wedge of lime (1/8 lime)
- 3-4 oz soda or sparkling water
To make soda infused water chop half cucumber coarsely and place in non reactive container with 1 can (1 2/3 cups) soda water. Allow to infuse for 3 hours, strain and keep in fridge until use. (Lasts 2 days)
To create garnish slice remaining cucumber along length with a peeler. You will need two to three slices depending on the size of your glass. Fill glass with ice and drop cucumber slices in around edge.
Squeeze lime into glass and drop wedge into top of glass. Top with soda water (3-4 oz). Pour ginger simple syrup into each glass, stir and serve.
What did my family think?
With a hubby who hates cucumbers and two kids who find ginger drinks overpowering, I had to go to outside sources. So after my first testing, I meandered over to my sister-in-laws with some samples and created both the “favourites” for her. Her comments? “Refreshing” Her preference? The more earthy muddled drink, which I agree feels more like a cocktail and less like a mixture of pops.
What’s your preference? With only two samplers at my disposal, I challenge you to do the taste test and comment on your thoughts.