When summer gives up its bounty of fresh fruit, preserve that sun-kissed flavor in good-quality brandy (for the best results) to be enjoyed year-round on ice cream, pound cake, pancakes, or as is with whipped cream. One of the ways in which fruits can be preserved is in alcohol—no water-bath processing required—and the brandy contributes a wonderful flavor as well.
A single type of fruit can be used, say peaches only or just pears, or a combination of fruits and berries. Berries should be left whole (cherries pitted for easier eating) but larger fruits will need to be pitted and diced and, in the cases of nectarines, peaches, and pears, blanched and peeled. Keep in mind that it takes at least one month for the fruit to be at its best (longer is better), so plan far ahead.
- 9 cups diced fruit of choice (fresh, ripe but not mushy, unbruised pitted plums, peeled nectarines and peaches) or whole pitted cherries, blueberries, or other berries
- 5 cups sugar
- 5 cups light brown sugar (firmly packed)
- 4 cups brandy (good-quality, as much as necessary)
In a very large bowl, combine the fruit and sugars, tossing well. Cover and let macerate for 1 hour, tossing every 15 minutes.
Divide the fruit among 8 sterilized pint jars or a gallon covered crock. Pour in the brandy, making sure the fruit is submerged. Cover and store in a cool place for at least 1 month. Since the brandied fruit will only improve with age, let the flavors develop longer if possible.
Once aged, enjoy as you like.
How to Use
- Drain 1 cup of the brandied fruit, reserving the liquid, and bake them into a cake mix or cake from scratch, substituting any liquid called for in the recipe with the brandied fruit syrup (the alcohol will burn off).
- Add some brandied fruit to mixed drinks, punch, sangria, or use in a nonalcoholic beverage made with sparkling water.
- Use well-drained fruit as the crowning glory on top of a frosted cake.
- Use as a condiment alongside turkey or other roasts by cooking down the liquid only until thick, and recombining with the fruit.
- Mix well-drained and chopped fruit with softened cream cheese for an interesting cracker-and-cheese plate.
How to Store
The brandied fruit can be stored on a counter. As its contents diminish, just add more diced fruit (2 cups fruit to 1/2 cup each white and firmly packed brown sugar) and brandy to cover.