Literally Swimming in Alcohol

Canning Factory c. 1898Ricky’s Apartment, c. 1898

It’s the end of Harvest Season here in New England and that means Preserving Parties! While we’ve done videos about canning and smoking before, today we’re going to go in a surprising new direction: Preserving with Alcohol!

Alcohol preservation comes in two major varieties: fermenting fruit to keep it through the winter and packing in alcohol.

If you don’t understand the concept of fermenting fruit, you’re probably on the wrong blog. At some point, we’ll finish our analysis of nutrient survival during fermentation, but until then it’s probably best if you eat apples to stay healthy and drink hard cider to get tipsy.

So, let’s talk about Alcohol Packing which is, on the face of it, a very easy concept:
Step 1: Wash, Rinse, and/or Clean Fruit
Step 2: Put Fruit in Jars
Step 3: Pour in Alcohol
Step 4: Wait a Long Time
Step 5: Eat

Here are the basic ground rules:

  • Any fruit works, but if your fruit has an impermeable skin, you have to either section the fruit or lacerate the skin.
  • You need a fairly high-proof alcohol source for sake of safety: 80 proof is recommended, but 60 or even 40 should be just fine. This means you can blend a pint of brandy with a cup of Valkyrie’s Choice or Dirty Mayor and be in the safe zone.
  • Most people add more sugar and spices to their mix.
  • Any alcohol works, but remember this is a marriage of flavors. If you put apples in vodka you’ll apple-y vodka and booze-y apples. If you put apple slices in brandy with a cinnamon stick and a few tablespoons of honey you have: Magic.
  • Wait a long time. Like, much longer than you want to. Three months is a reasonable aging time, but six months is better.


Now what? Well, it depends on what you’ve made. Small fruit and things like lemon peels make great garnishes in cocktails. Slightly larger whole fruits can be treated like an edible shot.

We’ll be releasing several of our favorite recipes in the next few weeks, so make sure to visit our Recipe Blog. Or, better yet, subscribe with RSS Here!

Oh yeah, and the New York Times had a pretty OK article about Fruit Packing HERE.


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