Those who like to mix their alcohol with fresh fruit will find today’s food holiday intoxicating. October 20 is National Brandied Fruit Day!
Brandied fruit is a simpler and more convenient way of preserving food than canning: it requires little more than fruit, brandy, and sugar. Alcohol kills bacteria, allowing you to skip the sometimes rigorous steps involved in canning. The downside, as stated, is that – as with pickling – it takes time for the flavors to meld. Luckily we plan our food holidays in advance, but unfortunately, not a month in advance, so we were unable to make our own brandied fruit. Too bad – this would have been fun! But at least we were able to order a jar online. It’s not as easy to find as you might think! Why use brandy (derived from the Dutch word brandewijn, which means “burnt wine”) to preserve fruit rather than, say, vodka or wine? The truth is, any high-proof spirit will work, but brandy is popular thanks to its flavor. Rumtopf, an early version of brandied fruit, originated in Germany; folks would fill a stoneware jar with fruit, top it with rum, and let the whole thing distill, until it turned into a tasty “rum pot.” An early recipe published by the Ladies Guild of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in East Randolph, New York, in 1907 states, Take one cup of brandy, one of sugar and one fruit to begin. Whatever fruit you choose, lay it in jar, first, then sugar, and lastly brandy; continue to add different fruits as they appear in season, one cup of each. You do not need any more brandy; as the juice will be extracted from the fruit and increase the amount. Commence with strawberries, and all kinds of fruit as they ripen. It is not to be cooked. Little has changed in the ensuing century.
As stated, I was bummed when I discovered we didn’t have enough time to make our own brandied fruit. This is one holiday that should have been on our radar even sooner. But not to fear, Dundee Fruit Company came to the rescue! As an added bonus they’re local, located about an hour south of where we live, in the Willamette Valley. This didn’t prevent us from paying almost $10 in shipping on a $9.95 product…sigh…but we didn’t have much choice in the matter. We ordered brandied marionberries, one of their top sellers. Marionberries are native to Oregon, and are a cross between a raspberry and blackberry. And they’re delicious!
We served them over vanilla ice cream. Delicious though they may be, when they’re brandied, they are strong. Whew! Can’t say we loved this, which bums me out given the cost. But it was alright.
- National Brandied Fruit Day (foodimentary.com)