I generally divide infusion ingredients up into three main groups:
1. Fruits & Veggies
2. Herbs & Spices
While you can have an infusion that features an ingredient from the latter two groups, Fruits & Veggies are often the stars of the show, the Heroes of the infusions if you will. The latter two groups would be in ‘Hero Support’ classes. While not often getting the fame and glory, they can be just as essential in taking your infusions to the next level. These are elements that help provide balance in your infusions.
Creating infusions is like cooking. Take scrambled eggs for example. You can crack your eggs, whisk them around, drop them in a pot and scrabble. This will produce a delightfully edible product. However, if you want to take it that much further, you can drop a pinch of garlic salt for extra flavor, a bit of milk to fluff it up and soften the eggs, and some pepper flakes for a hidden heat that balances on the back-end. The latter two groups of infusions ingredients would be equal to your salt, milk & pepper flakes.
Herbs & Spices
This group has all your herbs and spices that will not dissolve into your spirit when introduced to the infusion. Everything from tarragon and mint, to anise and lavender can be thrown into this group of ingredients. Usually coming in a dried form, they are more potent, thus used in smaller doses. The trick to follow here is to submerge the ingredient as much as possible in your spirit. As explained before, we want to create as much surface area contact between the ingredient and the spirit to maximize the infusion.
This group contains anything that will dissolve into the spirit once introduced into the infusion. This includes but is not limited to any herbs and spice that are soluble (sugar, salt, etc) as well as liquids and gels (sometimes lemon juice or a jam may be added to the infusion). In this group, the key is to dissolve the ingredient completely before letting the infusion settle. A bit of agitation, or swirling, is usually perfect for this task though in some cases heat may be necessary to attain proper results.
To quickly recap the ‘Fruits & Veggies’ post and this one: while quality of ingredients is key, proper preparation and use of ingredients is what allows the quality to shine through in your finished product.