brandied peaches

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.

boozy plums

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.

boozy plums

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.

red currants

By the middle of July the red currant bush is heaving with ruby fruit. Each year I see it fruiting, all glamourous and jewelled, and a few possibilities go through my mind.

red currants

Red currant cordial, a boozy version with rum and spices? Red currant jelly, lightly sweetened with apple and stevia? Frozen red currants to throw over ice cream and other lovely things! What would you make? I’m still considering the delicious prospects.

cherry liqueur

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.

cherry liqueur © elisa rathje 2011

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.
cherry liqueur © elisa rathje 2011
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.
cherry liqueur © elisa rathje 2011
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.

fruit fly trap

Fruit that I anticipate all year has begun to come into season, and resides in the fruit bowl. Usually it is rapidly eaten, but sometimes we are plagued by fruit flies. One year the flies were particularly, er, fruitful, and we had them clear through November! Somehow they took up residence on our bathroom mirror. This initiated some research and testing, and the resulting fruit fly trap.


Begin with a jar. We like glass so we can watch the proceedings.


Curl a piece of paper over on itself to form a cone with an opening at the point roughly wide enough for a fruit fly and one or two of its closest friends to slip through. Set the cone into the jar point down, shuffling the shape until the point reaches about half way down and the edge meets the glass. Tape the edge of the curled paper shut to keep the cone in place. Close any gaps to prevent any marauding fruit flies from escaping along the edge.


Slice the paper across at a couple of centimetres above the edge of the jar.


Cut tabs around the top edge to allow folding.


Ready? Toss in something your fruit flies have been enjoying. Mine are particularly fond of overripe fruit, wine, a touch of vinegar added to help things along if you like. I had a few leftover blueberries on hand, and a splash of red wine.


Fold down and tape shut the top edge of the cone to the glass. Set the jar in fruit fly territory.


Observe. The flies find their way in, yet cannot find their way out. No, it isn’t friendly. They die. They don’t live particularly long anyway, you’re just giving them a sweet place to live out their lives. I catch and release spiders, wood bugs, mice, I can accept living with ladybirds and lacewings. Fruit flies, not so much.

Don’t forget to toss the contents before the science project gets out of control! In fact, if you add some vinegar, you’d really just be making blueberry vinegar, which might have been quite nice without the flies in it.