Making Brandied Fruit is easy and a great homemade holiday gift project. Brandied fruits are wonderful over ice cream, cakes, pancakes and bread puddings and they make lovely additions to cocktails as well. And don't forget about adding to the stuffing of a holiday bird or some pork chops!
You want to use ripe, unmarred fruit with no bruises or damage and a good brandy (or cognac). I use a VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) or VO (Very Old) brandy which has been aged at least 4 years. You can also use dried fruits and you can combine fruits for a "signature" blend.
Feel free to add flavors with spices like vanilla beans, anise stars, cardamom seeds or the zest of lemons and oranges as well. Even chilies and peppercorns can bring unexpected depth of flavor! Add these to the jar just before sealing up.
SIMPLE BRANDIED FRUIT RECIPE:
5 Cups of Fruit
5 Cups Sugar
4+ Cups GOOD 80 Proof Brandy
(You'll need enough to completely cover the fruit. Any leftover can be saved for cocktails!)
Large Mixing Bowl
4 Sterilized Pint Glass Jars with Sealable Lids
Mix the fruit and sugar in a large bowl and allow mixture to macerate for a minimum of an hour, tossing every 15 minutes.
Divide the fruit mixture between the jars and fill remainder of jar with your brandy, leaving about half an inch head space.
Cover and let infuse for a MINIMUM of a month, shaking occasionally. Keep in mind the longer your fruit is allowed to soak in that lovely brandy the better it will be!
Label and give as a gift or just keep for yourself!
Some say you can add more fruit and brandy to the jar as you use it up, however I prefer making fresh batches to keep the aging controlled. Your brandied goodness can last up to nine months, more if refrigerated, just make sure the fruit is completely submerged in the alcohol at all times.
While searching for the building blocks of life in outer space astronomers recently found a giant dust cloud at the heart of the Milky Way that is loaded with ethyl formate, an amino acid that gives raspberries their flavor and rum it's distinctive smell! So, for all intents and purposes THERE'S A PAYLOAD OF RASPBERRY RUM IN OUTER SPACE!
The first thing this made me think of was a bunch of drunken, spacesuit adorned bar hoppers cavorting around the cosmos.
The next thing got me to thinking of was a stellar rum and raspberry cocktail. Unfortunately this newly discovered cloud of happy hour is about 58 quadrillion miles away so we'll have to create a little bit of intergalactic inebriation right here on the third rock from the sun, aka Earth. I have (with no permission whatsoever from N.A.S.A) done all the formulation for you so there's no need to shell out $250,000 to Virgin Galactic to hitch a ride to high flying Hoochville.
And my cocktail doesn't come with all the other space debris like carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and ammonia which you'd have to contend with in the vacuum of space.
THE DRUNKEN ASTRONAUT
1 Oz. Light Rum
3/4 Oz. Chambord
1/4 Oz. Orange Curacao
3/4 Oz. Lime Juice
1 Drop Orange Bitters
2 Tsp. Honey
Chill your glass in the freezer. Warm the honey for about 10 seconds in the microwave. Add 1 cup of ice to a blender, pour in the rum, the Chambord, the Orange Curacao, the lime juice, the orange bitters a handful of fresh raspberries and the warmed honey. Blend until your cocktail is the consistency of a slushy. Pour into your chilled glass then garnish with a few more fresh raspberries and a twist of lime.
First, of course, come the COCKTAILS! I have hundreds of cocktail recipes featuring vodkas, I lost count of how many, but there's one here for just about everyone from A to Z, Soup to Nuts (not kidding!), alphabetically lined up: VODKA COCKTAILS
POUR VODKA ON IT!
Did you know you could use vodka to clean your jewelry, remove those nasty cat smells, polish your silverware and relieve jellyfish stings? Check out the
There's nothing quite like a little sunshine in a glass and I captured some for you with this lemony twist on a classic Champagne Cocktail by adding my Homemade Lemoncello (Limoncello is a trademarked brand, btw) and lemon flavored bitters!
Because melons and cucumbers both belong to the Cucurbitaceae, aka the gourd, family they make a nice pairing in a martini. They're also abundant during the fall, sometimes from our own gardens, and this means it's the best time to enjoy them.
1-1/2 Oz. Pinnacle Cucumber Watermelon Vodka
1 Oz. Pureed Honeydew Melon
1 Oz. Pureed Cantaloupe Melon
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Pinch of Pollen Ranch Spicy Fennel Salt
1 Tsp. Honey
Honeydew and Cantaloupe Cubes, Chilled
Slice of Cucumber, Chilled
Chill your glass in the freezer. Add a cup of ice to your cocktail shaker then pour in the vodka, honeydew and cantaloupe purees, the lemon juice, fennel salt and the honey and shake vigorously until well chilled. Pour into your chilled martini glass, add a few cubes of the melons and the cucumber slice to a cocktail pick and lay across or in your martini.
Here's a little tip on using honey in a cocktail. If you warm the honey just a bit (I nuke mine for about 10 seconds or so) it will mix in quicker and you won't have to shake as long. This helps keep you from diluting your cocktail too much!
When I was a kid I loved grapes, grape juice and grape soda. I still love grapes but the juices and sodas have become a bit too sweet for my adult palate and I wanted to explore a way to drink the fruit of the vine where the grape shines and not the sugars from processing.
The easiest way to balance sugar is with a citrus and another wait to cut the sweetness is by adding a bit of effervescence from a dry sparkling wine or a Brut Champagne so I did a bit of both. The bit of grassiness in the mint lends a bit more balance as well as added flavor and crispness. By the time I had combined all these I finally had a cocktail version of the grape beverages I loved as a kid!
The frozen grapes are not only a great garnish, they help to keep your cocktail chilled while you enjoy it.
1-1/2 Oz. Citrus Vodka
1 Oz. Concord Grape Juice
1 Oz. White Grape Juice
3 Mint Leaves
1 Oz. Dry Sparkling White Wine or Brut Champagne
Frozen Grapes to chill and for garnish
Sprig of Mint for garnish
Chill some grapes ahead of time, it only takes an hour or so for them to freeze. Chill your glass in the freezer. Muddle the mint leaves and the citrus vodka in the bottom of your cocktail shaker. Add one cup of ice to shaker then pour in both the grape juices and shake until well chilled. Strain into a martini glass to about 2/3 full then top off with the sparkling wine or Champagne. Add a few frozen grapes to the cocktail to keep chilled, place one grape on the rim and slide in the fresh mint sprig and enjoy!
Now go get a copy of What's Eating Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp and Leonardo Di Caprio are in it!) and enjoy it with this cocktail!
"The juice of the grape is the liquid quintessence of concentrated sunbeams.”
Thomas Love Peacock