|The process of smoking strawberries for your summer cocktail is very easy. Merely cut your strawberries and place them on your grill to enhance their flavor than process into flavorful drink.|
Strawberries Love SmokeStart with strawberries that are at their peak. Gently wash them and then trim the stem end. I cut smaller strawberries in half and larger in quarters to ensure the smoke vapor can penetrate easily but you certainly can leave them whole. In addition to the strawberries – at least one quart to produce enough liquid for a few drinks – you’ll need the following ingredients and materials
Ingredients & Materials:
- 4 tablespoons sugar – reserve some extra in case you want to make this sweeter
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of fine or coarse sea salt
- Juice of 2 limes
- Handful of fresh basil or mint
- Ice cubes
- Mixing bowl
- Mortar & pestle (optional)
- Sheet pan lined with parchment paper
- 2 double filet wood chunks from SmokinLicious®
Gas Grilling With Wood ChunksCooking with wood chunks can be done on the LP Gas Grill by using the heat shields or diffusers, whose purpose is to ensure even heat output over the grill grate. By keeping a medium-low heat on the burner containing 2 wood chunks from SmokinLicious® – I’m using 1 ash and 1 cherry – you won’t get the wood erupting in flames but rather a slow combustion that releases plenty of wood-fired flavor. While the wood heats up, I combine my strawberries with 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and a pinch of sea salt.
Get Ready For Juicy BubblesWhen you smoke strawberries on the grill, all the locked in pectin water will be released by the heat. That’s why it’s so important that you line your sheet pan with parchment paper so you don’t end up with a hard to clean mess.
After mixing in the vanilla extract, sugar, and salt it’s time to spread the strawberries onto the lined sheet pan and place on the grill. Once the pan is in place, turn off all the burners except for the one that has the wood chunks on the diffuser. Cooking time will be about 40 minutes with a grill heat of 300°F maintained with the lid closed and 1 burner lit.
Taste Is The Sweet AromaWhenever I smoke fresh strawberries, it brings the memory of my Mom making strawberry jam. As the strawberries react to the smoke vapor, you will see the pectin release and a beautiful, thick glaze will form around them. This is the stuff that will make an exceptional aqua fresca so be sure you don’t lose any when removing the pan from the heat. You’ll see the finished strawberries take on a much darker coloring and reduce size slightly from the water loss. Now get ready for the fun part – getting our drink together.
Strawberry BaseTo start our drink creation, you will need a blender and I prefer a mortar and pestle for combining citrus and fresh herbs. Add the smoked strawberries to the blender and the remaining sugar. You can add the lime juice and fresh basil or mint right to the blender or add to a pestle and combine with the mortar. Once combined, add to the blender. Process the mixture. Add a few ice cubes and process again until a smooth mixture is revealed. You may add lime juice, sugar and ice as you see fit at this point – the recommended amounts are merely a guide.
Creating the Ultimate Aqua FrescaWith our strawberry mixture completed, it’s time to combine everything into a refreshing drink or cocktail. If making a cocktail, select your spirit of choice. I recommend tequila, vodka, or rum. Add some ice cubes to a glass. If making the alcoholic version, add an ounce of alcohol to the glass. Pour in the strawberry mixture and stir. Add a sprig of basil or mint to the glass and serve.
If you are a frozen drink person, add more ice during the blending stage to thicken this up and make a milkshake like consistency. This is so refreshing and so fitting for the warmer months. Enjoy the Smoked Strawberry Aqua Fresca your way as you stay cool this summer season!