This post follows “Brandy swamp juice at day 60.” To see that post, click here.
Wow, wow, and wow! For the last 90 days, I have had two gallon jars of cheap vodka (the cheapest I could find) fermenting with fruit that was falling from the trees. I have endured ridicule, taunting, threats of jail time if I poisoned anyone, and skepticism that the new “hobby” would be a disaster. Now, the verdict is in. I have had a chance to taste the wicked brew and, oh boy, was I surprised! Look who’s laughing now!
First, let me go back a little bit for those of you hitting this blog out of order from the first two. I had two full trees full of fruit that were going to waste. I had fed the family all the fruit products I could concoct, and needed another fresh usage. I went online to get suggestions and found apricot leather (too much work with the risk of my kids hating it), cookies (didn’t use a tree full of fruit) and then I saw a homemade brandy site. Hmph, I thought, I’m not much of a brandy drinker, but the labor looked easy – pick fruit, add sugar and cheap vodka, put in gallon jars and turn once a day for three months. I could handle that – and the shelf-life was very good.
Ten dollar half-gallon jars of vodka are not something to brag about. The stuff is nasty. I tasted a drop or two out of the jug and figured I was wasting my time, as nothing in my imagination could cut the harsh biting taste. Regardless of my doubts, I vowed to continue the experiment, mainly because the web writer so convincingly said it would work. After 30 days, the brew began to ferment and that looked even LESS appealing. I plotted to feed it to the hubby and his football buddies because, after all, they’ll consume anything. Little did I know, hubby was bracing for a strong defense as he was convinced the stuff was too vile even for football buddies. Besides, he feared that serving brandy to beer-drinking football buddies could taint his reputation as a rough-n-tumble guy.
By day 60, the look had exceeded unappetizing and was well on the way to being classified as pollution. The apricots had begun to disintegrate and the crabapples were not showing any sign of fermenting at all. My husband got all huffy and began taking offensive measures to protect his buddies from death-by-brandy. I remained weakly hopeful, though the project did not look promising. He reminded me that this concoction looked a lot like the juice from a bag of lettuce that has been left in the refrigerator crisper drawer a month too long.
Adding to my discomfort, I had chosen to set the gallon jars where the family makes their breakfast toast, thereby assuring that the brandy would be turned daily. This subjected me to near daily ridicule about taking up hobbies that are scary and deadly and why couldn’t I be like all the other wives and have a candle hobby, or buy myself a pet bird. For 90 days, I suffered this daily taunting. To my dismay, the football buddies all formed a contingent and were bringing their OWN drinks in tamper-proof containers. Helmets, too,if necessary.
By 90 days, the two jars full of brackish liquid were ready. I had purchased a BRITA filter, but had not considered the straining process beforehand. One must pre-soak the filter, but no site that I ran across said whether to soak it in water, or vodka. I follwed the BRITA instructions and used water. Then worried that I would further ruin 90 days of agony by watering down the brew.
What I discovered the hard way is that, at least with the apricot mixture, one must strain it with a generously-holed strainer first, then with cheesecloth next. The photo at right shows what you should not put in the BRITA! This would be obvious to anyone who has ever used a water filter before. It was NOT obvious to me. (There went one filter.) Filling it up with the raw glop only clogged the filter, stopping it almost immediately. So, for those new to this process, strain the fruit mixture a couple times through cheese cloth before putting it into the filter. Then, leave it overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, you will have beautiful brandy.
The crabapple brandy was a very different creature. The fruit had not dissolved like the fragile apricots, so the liquid in the jar remained clear and clean for the entire 90 days. I was more concerned that it might not have taken the flavor, or completed the process enough to produce a good flavor. Straining it was not necessary, and filtering it was not necessary, either.
The results? The apricot was very good, but pretty sweet. This was not like any brandy I’ve ever bought at the store, those being harsher with a strong alcohol taste to them. This was very smooth, and I say this regretably but honestly – I think it would be amazing over pancakes. It’s not undrinkable, but would make a good dessert drink.
Now, the crabapple was a different story. The color is a light yellowish-amber. It blew me away. Very smooth flavor, not as sweet, but this one left my husband’s jaw on the floor. He could not believe we got that product out of some worm-riddled crabapples. (I did remove the worms before making the batch, for those wondering.) The crabapple brandy left us both speechless. Next time we have a crabapple crop, I will definitely be cleaning off the tree and using this for gifts for friends. It surpassed expectations by a landslide!
From there, it was a mad dash to protect the goods as one cannot afford to allow football buddies to consume exquisite products. It’s cheap beer and brats for you guys! I’ll take the “obnoxious, vile, liquid and dispose of it properly…up on the balcony with a girlfriend or two.
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