What are Purees?
Fruit purees are a little-used ingredient that can have a big impact on your cocktails. In my experience their flavor is closer to the flavor of the fresh fruit, but without the hassle of breaking down the fruit yourself. (Unless of course you choose to make the purees yourself – which works too!)
Purees are made by pureeing fruit in a blender (not a juicer, which removes the pulp in the process), and then by adding sugar and acid. This means more of the actual fruit is used, contributing to the flavor. The sugar and acid is added to create a consistent acid / sweetness profile and balance.
Why use Purees?
As I mentioned previously, purees really do have a more “fresh” flavor than other processed fruit options like concentrate or juice.
They also have the benefit of providing a consistent balance – if you buy your purees or make a large batch, you can be sure the product / batch will create cocktails that are balanced every time, following the same recipe. If you are making your puree yourself, be sure to adjust each batch to account for differences in the fruit flavor and keep the final puree consistent batch-over-batch. This won’t be a concern if you’re buying your purees – not to mention skipping the effort of breaking down the fruit and making the purees yourself!
Purees are also typically stored frozen, meaning they keep longer than fresh fruit. When frozen they can keep up to two full years. In the fridge, they’ll keep up to ten days. Of course, the downside is you will need to dedicate freezer / fridge space.
An additional benefit of buying purees instead of making them yourself is having access to a full spectrum of fruit that may not be in season near you – or that may be too expensive. Fresh lychee is almost always far too expensive for me to use in our bar program, but the puree is both approachable and consistent in price.
Using Purees Behind the Bar
As I mentioned earlier, purees should be kept frozen. But if you keep a large jar of frozen purees in your freezer, you’re going to have to wait a while before you can use it in service.
I recommend defrosting your purees (if they arrive frozen) and decant them into squeezy bottles (affiliate link). (Maybe you call them something else, but behind my bar we just called these “Squeezy” bottles!) Leave a bit of room and store them in your freezer, pulling out and defrosting just enough for one day’s service. If you forget to defrost them in advance, just put them in a bowl of cool water and they will defrost more quickly.
I recommend keeping those squeezy bottles in the fridge throughout service, if possible
In a previous post we discussed using freezing as a technique to create juice concentrate. That’s because water and juice melt at different rates. This means it’s important to defrost the whole container of puree before using it. If you defrost the jar halfway then use what’s melted, it will likely be more highly concentrated, (and the remainder more watery) – which will result in unbalanced cocktails.
As I mentioned earlier, purees are different from juice – which means you’ll need to take that into account when designing your own cocktails using purees.
Purees are made by “pureeing” fruit, straining it, then adding sugar and acid. They are often less sweet than juice and already somewhat balanced in flavor. If you’re substituting puree for juice, you may need to reduce the acid and / or increase the sweetener in the drink to compensate.
When making cocktails that use puree, you can treat it exactly the same as juice, except you’ll be “squeezing” it instead of pouring.
- Squeeze the puree into a jigger to measure
- Add the puree to a shaker tin along with other ingredients
- Shake with ice
- Strain and serve
When using purees I will typically fine-strain in addition to using the hawthorne strainer, but that’s a matter of preference.
Love Purees but Don’t Have Time to Make Them?
The folks at The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley are offering complimentary samples to bartenders and chefs.
Their purees are a great option if you’re concerned about maintaining consistent acidity & flavor throughout the year, as well as offering time, labor and cost savings for your team.
I’ve used them quite a bit behind the bar and definitely recommend them!
Are you using Purees?
I’ve used The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley’s products behind the bar in several bar programs now and been really happy with the product and the fact that I don’t have to prep the puree myself. Have you used them behind your bar? Do you have any tips for using them well in cocktails? Definitely let us know in the comments!