Week four of the Preserve the Bounty Challenge is my favourite so far, and the easiest. Preserving in alcohol! Who doesn't love a little drunken fruit?
My goals for this challenge:
- use fresh, local fruit from the Farmer's Market
- use alcohol I already have in my liquor cabinet (to save $)
- not use vodka (that's too easy!)
For my first creation, I improvised Jenny's recipe for Vanilla Rum Plums. I used a mix of small local black plums from Osoyoos and larger black plums from California. A bit of a cheat but they were in my fridge for some reason, so I figured I would use them up. I used a 1 litre canning jar. I had to cut the larger Californian plums into quarters (around the pit) to fit into the jar. The local plums I just pricked with a fork and popped them into the jar whole. Then I added 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon clear vanilla and enough Vanilla flavoured rum to cover all the fruit and fill the jar. As luck would have it, I had EXACTLY enough rum left in the bottle to fill the jar, right down to the last drop!
Next I preserved fresh, local blueberries in Peach Schanpps! This time I used a 500ml canning jar. I rinsed the blueberries and picked through them to remove stems, leaves and any unripe ones. I filled the jar with blueberries (just under 2 cups), added 1/4 cup of sugar and topped it all off with enough Peach Schnapps to cover the fruit and fill the jar.
My last creation, as posted the other day, cherries in Brandy! I couldn't decide if I should leave the stems/pitts intact and use the cherries for garnish or pitt and de-stem them for use in desserts and baking. I decided to do both. I made one 500ml jar of de-stemmed and pitted cherries and one 500ml with stems and pitts. The latter will be used in drinks and on top of desserts. The former will be used inside tarts, pies and other baking/cooking applications. I followed the same process as above. Cherries, 1/4 cup sugar per jar, alcohol to fill. For all my creations I chose not to simmer the alcohol with the sugar. I didn't want to jeopardize the alcohol content by heating it. Instead I used the good old "shake" method - put the fruit, sugar and liquid in a jar, secure tightly and shake your ass off! I continued to shake the jars every couple hours, just to ensure all the sugar was dissolved, then I stored my jars in the bottom of a cupboard. Every couple days I go and shake them up again.
Now I have to wait at least a month before I test my creations. I'm looking forward to Vanilla Rum Plums over ice cream. And Blueberry Peach Schanpps Martinis. I'm also thinking of trying out some Cherry Brandy Tarts. Oh the fun I will have this fall!