National Brandied Fruit Day

What is brandied fruit? My mind goes back to my childhood when those boxes of Pot of Gold sat open on the coffee table at Christmas time. Rum chocolates and that sort of thing.

Brandied fruit is not so tame, I’ve discovered.

Bourbonized Apricots

When I think about it, I have actually eaten this. On a vacation to the Dominican Republic a few years back, I returned, quite happily, with some delicious tequila, called Bear Hug, that I had sampled at the duty free shop.

No lemon, nor salt is required to toss one of these shots back. It is the sweetest, smoothest tasting tequila I have ever tried. Better yet, don’t toss it back. Savour it’s delightfulness with a small ice cube. Move over, Jose Cuervo!

A nice little gift waited for me at the bottom of this bottle of Bear Hug. Not a worm but strips of papaya! Those little babies pack a punch! Be careful eating too much in one sitting, otherwise you’ll end up with alcohol poisoning.

Granted the title implies using brandy, but, based on the above combination, why not use any favorite liquor? Incidentally, brandy is produced from the distillation of wine. Whereas, wine is the product of fermentation and, in many cases, aging.

Again, I will mention the Bitters Experiment. The fruit I have used so far are apricots and cranberries. Use your imagination! Mangoes are my next target. The most popular are: Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Pears, Peaches and Plums. A variety of berries work great, too!

As far as the alcohol aspect, you can use Armagnac, American Brandies or Cognac. Catch my post coming up in February for National Brandy Day.

Jack Daniels & Cranberries

For the best results, infuse your chosen fruit in your best tasting alcohol for at least one month.

The down side is you have to add alot of sugar, such as the case of this recipe. I did not add sugar to my fruit infusions but could add honey if I so chose. Or I could mix my bitters with a fruit juice or a sweet liqueur, the options are endless.

I did find one that requires much less if you’re interested in attempting your own concoction for National Brandied Fruit Day.

Make Your Own Brandied Fruit

1 pound of fruit

3-4 tablespoons of sugar (more if the fruit used isn’t overly sweet)

1/3 cup water

2 inches of a vanilla bean

Additional spices, such as cinnamon, allspice, peppercorns, etc, even citrus peels, can be experimented with.

Simmer water and sugar and cook until clear. Let cool.

Sprinkle the cut/sliced/chopped fruit with lemon juice. Fill sterilized jars, leaving half an inch of space at the top. Pour the brandy/liquor mix to fill the rest of the jar.

Add small bits of vanilla to each jar and any spices you wish. Seal and store in a dark place for a month or longer.

Once it’s ready in a month from now and you want to nibble on a couple of pieces, top up the jar with more of the same alcohol/brandy to keep the fruit safe for consumption.

A jar should last up to 10 months in the refrigerator after opening.

For the full recipe, since I made modifications to my own preference.

Ways to Enjoy Brandied Fruit

  1. On top of ice cream.
  2. All by itself.
  3. When the girls come over for a pajama party. (No one’s driving after a few of these, right?!)
  4. Toss some in your Sangria.
  5. As an accompaniment to your cheese plate.
  6. Bake it into a cake.

I would love to hear of any of your variations of fruit and liquor/liqueur. Drop me a line!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on her birthday, October 20, 2017.

 

National Liqueur Day

First, let’s identify liqueur. As it is different from liquor.

Liqueur is an alcoholic beverage made from a distilled spirit such as vodka, rum or gin flavored with the likes of fruit, cream, herbs, spices, flowers, Nuts and additional sugar.

Liqueur vs Liquor

Something to note: a final liqueur is made up of 25% sugar. Avoiding carbs? Avoid liqueur.

Essentially, it is alcohol and plants.

The name comes from the French word, liquifacere, meaning to liquify.

As this meaning implies, liqueur is blended long enough for the flavors to marry. There is no aging involved.

Originally,  it was used as an herbal medicine in Italy in the 1300s. As a digestive, for example.

Monks were generally known to prepare them. Imagine dropping in to your local monastery for some feel good beverages!

Liqueur is also known as a Cordial  or Schnapps. However, the Commonwealth of Nations considers it a concentrated non-alcoholic fruit syrup, such as the bar-essential grenadine or a Cherry Cordial.

Germany and the Scandinavian regions refer to brandy or aquavit as Schnapps.

No wonder it gets confusing!

To add to the confusion, distilleries are adding flavors to their products which can adjust the ABV or the amount of sugar.

The Difference (excluding flavored liquors)

Liqueur Liquor
Distilled alcohol is the base to which spices, herbs, fruit, nuts, anything plant-based really, and sugar (usually lots of it!) are added. Is first fermented from a grain or a plant then distilled.
Very sweet since a form of sugar is added (honey, molasses, glucose, etc). Not sweet tasting because any natural sugar is turns into ethanol and carbon dioxide during fermentation.
Lower alcohol content, due to the addition of sugar – most are minimum 20% ABV. Higher alcohol content – usually about 40% ABV or higher.
Syrupy consistency. Watery substance.

In a nutshell, the succession is as follows:

Liquor (Base Grain) → Bitters (+Herb/Spice) → Liqueur (+Sugar)

Bourbonized Apricots

This brings me to my Big Experiment of the year. The Bitters.  A few months ago, I began the infusion of various liquors with plant based products, for example, apricots and bourbon.

The result is a softened tasting bourbon and some very potent apricots! Based on the above principles, I added an ounce of vodka and a spoonful of honey. Voila, a homemade liqueur! Notice the change in transparency (see below). Pure Apple Cider is also added to make it into a delicious fall beverage.

Anise is a very fascinating liqueur. In its plain form, it is clear. Add water and watch the change. It becomes cloudy. The licorice oil

Anise Flavoured Liqueur

remains within at the high concentration level when it is sold. As soon as the alcohol concentration changes, it reacts, crystallize get.  This is referred to as the ouzo effect. Not to be confused with actual Ouzo.

 

Fun With Liqueur

1. Shoot it straight up

2. Sip it with ice after dinner.

3. Layer it into a work of art.

4. Try Advocaat for a different edge. They use non-plant additions: egg yolks. Think egg nog (ish)

ABV = alcohol by volume

Apricot-Infused Bourbon with Vodka added
Apricot-Infused Bourbon with the honey then cider added

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on October 16, 2017