One of the easiest preserving techniques is to put something into alcohol. Easy, right? Any kind of fruit plus most kinds of harder alcohols will result in an achievement that you can gloat about when friends come over. Open up a jar of apricot brandy and life instantly gets richer. When really all you did was put some small apricots in a pint jar, add sugar and brandy and let it sit for a few months.
And rarely will you go wrong. I use vodka (I usually use something plain and inexpensive, like Svedka) and brandy, mostly, but gin and rum in some cases. If you want to get serious, go to New Jersey and pick up some Everclear or neutral grain spirit. People say that the flavors will ring more true with grain alcohol, but I’m fine with what I can get in the stores. Keep in mind that vodka and the like are 40 to 60 percent alcohol, whereas NGS is more like 75 to 95. That’ll burn your nose hairs off!
In most cases you can eat the fruit, stewed in sugar and alcohol. Over cakes or on top of ice cream. Or just pop one like a sweet shot. In other cases the fruit shrivels and doesn't look so good, so don't worry if that happens.
Here's a great recipe to start with, from The Joy of Cooking. It uses cherries, but any stone fruit will work. You can make one pint or several. That's the beauty. And there's no processing. Just leave it in a cool, dark place. One pound of cherries makes one pint.
Snip the stems down to 1/2 inch. For every pound of fruit use 1/2 cup of sugar. Layer the sugar and fruit in clean pint jars. Fill jars with brandy or vodka (or they also recommend framboise, grappa or bourbon). Seal tightly and let stand for at least two months before serving. In the first month, invert the jars gently to disburse and dissolve the sugar.
Some boozy links to enjoy:
A great article with some interesting recipes by Melissa Clark of A... One of the recipes is for rumtopf. Get prepared now for a rumtopf tomorrow. If you save a little bit of fruit from each harvest, generously mixed with booze and sugar, by Christmas time you will have a half-gallon of goodness on hand to ring in the season. Here's some more rumtopf info from Tigress in a Jam.
Triple Sec. Do you have any sour oranges on hand? Probably not, but there's some links to recipes for triple sec with sweet oranges, too.
Rhubarb Liqueur. This is really incredible! And rhubarb time is nigh.
Please leave a comment and let me know what's in your liqueur cabinet! Links welcome!
Julia Sforza lives in Ulster Park. She also blogs at What Julia Ate.