Boozy fruit


Jane Pikett sets about some important Christmas gift making

Canning fruit is a serious endeavour, but a much easier way to impress your friends with homemade edible presents is to opt for boozy fruit.

There are endless options, just remember that every variety simply demands fruit, sugar syrup, booze, jars, and a few weeks to let it sit until Christmas.

Raspberries do well in vodka, plums take to brandy, while I am assured that pineapple enjoys Crème de Menthe, but I’m not sure I’m ready for that. Other fruits which enjoy this treatment include peaches, plums, apricots and pears. The most important thing is to be patient, as it takes a while for the fruit to properly take up the liquid, so you need to allow it to soak from the end of summer harvest until Christmas.

Any high-proof spirit such as brandy, rum, vodka, port, or gin will work with all manner of fruits. Obviously you’ve been thinking about this all year so you’ve collected some nicely shaped jars, and you’ve got some nice bits to decorate them with, like cinnamon sticks tied with twine or ribbons and bells.

How to do it

The most important thing is to keep it simple and not get too hung up on quantities. You can make a sugar syrup and match its quantity with your chosen spirit and soak the fruit in that, or you can simply pour spirit over the fruit and add a few spoonfuls of sugar and shake the jar gently to mix it. The alcohol acts as a preserver. The panel on the right offers some suggested quantities for recipes using sugar syrup, and some which go the whole hog and just stick to the booze. Have fun experimenting!

Sugar syrup recipes:

Peaches in rum
6 ripe firm peaches, 400g sugar and 280ml water boiled and simmered to a syrup, 2 halved cinnamon sticks, 170ml white or dark rum

Cherries in Kirsch
600g dark red cherries with stalks on, 280g sugar and 280ml water boiled and simmered to a syrup, 110ml Kirschwasser

Oranges in brandy
12 small oranges, 400g sugar and 280ml water boiled and simmered to a syrup, 2tsp allspice berries, 170ml brandy

Booze and sugar recipes:

Plums in brandy
2 handfuls small plums, 225ml brandy, 225g granulated sugar

Strawberries in sherry
400g strawberries, 225ml cream sherry, 225g granulated sugar

Pears in port
4 firm ripe pears, 180g sugar, 3 x 1cm strips orange peel, 1 x 1cm strip lemon peel, 1 stick cinnamon, 225ml port wine

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