Brandied Fruit Starter
By mid summer my kitchen begins to take on the appearance of a mad scientist’s laboratory. Jars of Nocino are lined up on the window sill like specimens. Containers of brandied fruit are beginning to fizz, and demijohns of fermenting juice, capped with airlocks, are bubbling on the kitchen counter. Pots of boiling jams or jellies are on the stove. Jars of preserves are cooling on racks in the center of our dining table, almost ready to be taken to the cellar for storage. While baskets of fruit and vegetables wait on the floor for processing. The house is filled with the sweet fragrance of fruit and spices.
My mother used to keep a jar of brandied fruit going in her kitchen. I loved it with vanilla ice-cream, when I was a child.
As the fruit in our garden starts ripening, I start a jar of brandied fruit. First cherries, then gooseberries, black currents, apricots, nectarines, peaches, plumes, pears, apples and finally grapes. It is a natural way of preserving the fruit. By the end of summer I put the brandied fruit in jars and cap the jars. I place the jars in a large pot of warm water, then add water to 1 inch above the jars. Then heat the water to 180 F. for 30 minutes. This process kills the yeast and pasteurize the fruit, while sealing the jars. Afterwards, I can store the fruit in my cellar for winter.
Brandied Fruit Starter
6 cups mixed fruit (fresh or canned)
3 cups sugar
1 packet of dry bread or wine yeast
Put all the ingredients in a large jar with a loose lid or cover with a clothe secured with a rubber band and leave on your kitchen counter to ferment. The fermentation process starts when yeast is added to fruit and sugar. By the next day bubbles will start forming on the surface of the liquid in the jar. The bubbles are a natural process of yeast acting with sugar to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. The yeast converts the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is then released from the fruit mixture into the air as bubbles, leaving behind the alcohol. When the alcohol level reaches 15% the fermentation will stop.
Stir once or twice a day. In two weeks the fermentation will slow down. At this point you can stop the fermentation or add another 2 cups of fruit and 1/2 cup of sugar to keep it fermenting. If you choose to stop the fermentation you can store the fruit in the refrigerator to use later or put it in jars with tight lids and process it as I mentioned before.
Bandied fruit is wonderful in cakes and desserts or over vanilla ice-cream.
Time: 1 hour
Nocino - A dark-colored walnut flavored liqueur with a hint of spice, It is considered a digestive in Italy, served after a meal.
Orange Ratafia - A French liqueur, flavored with bitter almond or citrus peel, herbs and spices. Traditionally ratafia can be made with brandy or clear distilled spirits. I use Tuzemak, a local Czech spirit, and my own house wine, however any wine and domestic brandy with a smooth finish could be used.
Brandied fruit - simple method for preserving fruit.