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Thursday, October 20, 2011

National Brandied Fruit Day

   October 20th is National Brandied Fruit Day. Brandied fruit? Hmmm. I have heard of it somewhere in my life, but do not recall ever having it. A little research was in order.
   The results of my research were as varied as the weather in upstate New York. Sometimes brandied fruit is also called Friendship Brandied Fruit, as in the Amish Friendship Bread Starter phenomena. I also found it to be sometimes referred to as "Rumtopt".
  Some recipes have no brandy in them at all, but use yeast and sugar with fruit  allowing the mixture to ferment (friendship version); some use brandy straight from the bottle, and still another uses rum ("rumtopt".) My favorite cookbook of all time has the rumtopt version, and apparently I have looked at the recipe on more than one occasion because upon reading it today, I said to myself, "ooohhhh." But I originally did not equate "brandied" fruit with a rum concoction.
   Rum is made from distilling sugar cane or its by-products, where brandy comes from distilling wine. Upon further research I learned that there are also fruit brandies made from fermenting any fruit other than grapes (which would be wine). So that's what qualifies  the fruit, sugar, and yeast concoction, the Friendship version as a "brandy". The rum version just jumps the fermentation process ahead, skipping the yeast party, but I think I like the idea of starting my own; yes, yes, yes, I will happily share it with friends.
  Okay, now for the real dilemma; which fruits to use? I have oranges in the fridge, and pears on the trees, but no maraschino cherries. I have peaches that I canned, and canned pineapple (no I did not can them myself, but that's a thought), but no maraschino cherries. What's with the maraschino cherries?
   Oh, wait, here's one version.  I have a can of Montmorency cherries in water. Don't know why I have them, but here they are in my pantry. I guess that's as good as anything to start with. Drain well, cut up, add 1 cup sugar, and 2-1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (that's one package). Mix well, loosely cover. Let sit for 2 weeks...
   Okay, we'll check on it on November 3, but, I will stir it every few days. Then we add another cup of cut-up fruit and another cup of sugar, stirring every few days for another 2 weeks. 
   Oh, boy, they're all going to ask me what this new experiment is. Did I ever tell you my family calls me a mad scientist? I am always mixing something new up, whether in the kitchen or the soap lab. This is definitely an experiment! 
   Let's hear from people out there about their experiences with brandied fruit. Just love hearing from you all!

 This is on December 9, 2011. Still brewing!