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Gin Fruit and Brandy Fruit

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FOLLOW-UP: After a week or so of letting the fruit soak in the gin and brandy, here's what I found: I prefer the gin, which has a crispness that brandy lacks. However, I liked the flavor of ginger and star anise better than cloves and cinnamon, so next year I plan to combine the two -- gin with ginger and star anise. As my mother pointed out, the fruit really is best between weeks 1 and 3, so if you're making the fruit to serve on a particular day, plan accordingly. And as for what to serve it with, I'd suggest passing it alongside a cheese course, spooning it over ice cream or cake (with some of the macerating liquid!), or adding it toward the end of cooking roast pork.

 

Most years, in early December, my mother starts making a jar of gin fruit for the holidays. Her recipe is mindlessly simple -- layer your favorite dried fruits with some spices, cover with booze -- so I thought I'd play around with two variations to see which I prefer. I hope you'll join me in this experiment.

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With the first jar of fruit (I used dried figs, prunes, apricots, cherries and raisins), I employed my mother's traditional aromatics, cinnamon stick and cloves. And I've added one additional ingredient: clementine peel. This jar was filled with Bombay gin.

With the second jar of fruit, I used the same fruit, but layered it with star anise, fresh ginger and clementine peel, and covered it with brandy (until the bottle ran out) and Hine Cognac.

Now all there is to do is wait a week. I think it's ok to sneak a few tastes before then, don't you?

My mother pointed out that you may need to replenish the gin and brandy after a day or two, as the fruit soaks up the alcohol. And the fruit is best consumed within a few weeks, before the fruit's sugars begin turning the booze to syrup.

Let me know if you give it a try!

Gin Fruit

Makes about 1 quart

  • 1 cup dried figs
  • 1 cup plump prunes
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons raw sugar
  • 8 cloves
  • 8 long strips clementine peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • About 375 ml gin

1. In a large bowl, combine the dried fruit.

2. To a lidded 1-quart glass jar, add 1/4 of the fruit. Add 1/4 of the sugar, cloves and clementine peel. Repeat 3 more times. Push the cinnamon stick into the center of the fruit. Pour over enough gin to just cover the fruit. Seal the jar with a lid. Let sit for a week before eating, replenishing the gin as needed.

Brandy Fruit

Makes about 1 quart

  • 1 cup dried figs
  • 1 cup plump prunes
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons raw sugar
  • 4 star anise pods
  • 8 thin slices ginger
  • 8 long strips clementine peel
  • About 375 ml brandy

1. In a large bowl, combine the dried fruit.

2. To a lidded 1-quart glass jar, add 1/4 of the fruit. Add 1/4 of the sugar, star anise, ginger and clementine peel. Repeat 3 more times. Pour over enough brandy to just cover the fruit. Seal the jar with a lid. Let sit for a week before eating.