When I find the very last of the summer fruit is going, I always wish I’d preserved just a bit more of it. Even the last two peaches will do! By now I think you know my solution. When it comes to the final peaches of the year, there’s nothing better to do than to introduce them to some brandy.
Charmed, I’m sure. Don’t worry if the peaches are long gone or not yet arrived where you are – any fruit will do. Quince would be perfect! Like ginny plums and drowned cherries, like elderflower liqueur or raspberry vodka, like oh, oh how I miss it, sloe gin, all you need is a bit of sugar and some kind of hard liquor. A clean jar. I sliced these peaches, poured half a cup of sugar over them, and filled the jar with brandy to cover the fruit. The longer you wait, the better it gets. The peaches will be intoxicatingly brandied, and the brandy will be exquisitely peachy. With the astonishingly early autumn storms we’ve been getting, summer seems a long way off. Brandied peaches will be a fine reminder on a cold winter’s night.
If you are so lucky as to have an abundance of plums and don’t know what to do with them all, I say, drown them in booze. We had a few from a tree at my childhood home, and they were getting overripe, suggestive of ginny plums anyway. Might as well push them in.
Plum liqueur is an astonishingly simple way to preserve a glut of fruit from late summer throughout the year. Choose an extremely clean, wide-mouthed mason jar, inexpensive vodka or gin, and sugar. Wash the plums, prick them all over with a fork and fill the jar. Sprinkle over a cupful of sugar; pour the booze over to submerge the plums. Seal the jar. I turn my jars of boozy plums now and then for a week or so. Taste the infusion in a couple of months; add more sugar if needed. I like to leave the fruit infusing for at least three months before we start tippling!
This little recipe featured in last autumn’s newsletter.
Like sugar, vinegar, and alcohol, the natural sweetener stevia can be infused with flavour. After an experiment in making lavender sugar, I wanted to try infusing sugar with vanilla.
Only, we rarely eat sugar! So I filled a dropper bottle with alcohol-based stevia, and slipped a cut bean into it. After even a few days, occasionally shaking the little bottle, the stevia develops a gorgeous flavour. Infusing vanilla stevia is much faster than making homemade vanilla extract – though we are doing that too! When we’re very busy and haven’t much chance to make food from scratch, these little things are quite satisfying.
Last summer I had the good sense to put some cherries in a jar, tip in some sugar, and cover the lot with vodka before I left for England.
Summer in a jar. Those cherries infused all year long til I returned to Canada in late spring, and broke open the jar to share some homemade cherry liqueur with my friend Tamara. A tipply tea party.
In celebration of another lovely visit with family here (though summer did take its time arriving), we poured a glass all around to say goodbye.
All the booze is in the fruit, a pair of cherries will set me a little drunk. Perhaps not the best state for packing the suitcases. I’ll be in England with my sweetheart before long – luckily he made cherry liqueur last year too! We sipped it all through the winter, when it is particularly good with a square of dark chocolate. I soaked the last cherries in sherry come spring and abandoned them back to the pantry. I expect they’ll be quite nice this autumn. We made lots of other types of liqueur and we’ll have to do it all over again this year.
Vanilla beans are delightful stored in sugar until they’re needed, which infuses the sugar with a wonderful rich flavour. I’ve done this before and mean to again. Recently I came across a lovely variation on infused sugar, for summer.
The lavender in my mother‘s garden is on the verge of blossoming, perfect.
I’ll leave the flowers in and use sugar when I need a little, or to make lavender biscuits or lavender chocolate cake. Birch sugar or honey can be infused, too. Simple pleasures.