Last August, I bought a case of Gravenstein Apples for apple sauce, and I ended up with a few extras that didn’t fit in the pot. Since we already had apple butter, apple pie filling, and apple sauce in the pantry, I started going through all my cookbooks to find something more interesting.
The answer was booze, of course.
I adapted a recipe from Put ’em Up, by Sherri Brooks Vinton. Her recipe calls for soaking the apples in brandy for two weeks, making an apple-infused brandy. When I made it, I added a lot more apples and then I left them in the brandy for six months, making more of an apple-liqeur, with very little taste of brandy left. The flavor is amazing: light, refreshing, with a really bright burst of apple flavor, like apple juice. I credit a lot of this to the delicious Gravenstein apples that I originally started with; they have just the right combination of sweet and tart, and a deliciously fresh flavor that later-season varieties of apples don’t often have.
Here’s my version of the recipe:
- 1 750 ml. bottle of cheap brandy
- a big jar with a lid (I used a 1.5 L. Quattro Stagioni jar)
- about 6 large apples
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/4 c. sugar
1. Sterilize your jar and lid. (Wash jar and lid in hot, soapy water, and then put the jar in the oven at 200 degrees for twenty minutes. Put the lid in a small bowl and cover it with boiling water, then set aside.)
2. Put the cinnamon stick and sugar in the jar.
3. Rinse the apples, remove stems and cores, and chop into 1″ cubes. Fill the jar up with as many apple cubes as you can fit (or as you have), leaving about an inch at the top of the jar.
4. Pour brandy into the jar, making sure to completely cover the apples and reach the top of the jar. You don’t want a weird floating apple to get exposed to the air and start doing bad things… like rotting.
5. I gave the jar a gentle shake every day for two weeks (just to make sure that the apples, sugar, and liquor are all staying mixed together). After that, leave the jar in your pantry (or any other cool, dark spot) and give it a shake every month or so. When the time is up, strain out the fruit and put the filtered brandy in a clean jar in the fridge, where it lasts up to a year.
This basic formula doesn’t end with apples, by the way. You could put any fruit you want in some brandy or vodka… the possibilities are endless. I just started a new batch of blood-orange vodka that I can’t wait to try. Clean jar + alcohol + fruit = cocktails!