By Michiyo Horike / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer TOSU, Saga — During the long autumn evenings, why not enjoy brandy with fruits of the harvest season?
Various flavors of fruit brandy are popular, especially among women. Kazuo Fujiyoshi, a food expert based in Tosu, Saga Prefecture, showed me small jars of brandy flavored with pear, orange and fig. These had been prepared the night before but were already ready to drink on the day of my visit, according to Fujiyoshi.
The preparation is simple. Cut the fruits into pieces and put them in a jar with brandy.
“Unlike umeshu plum liquor and other hard liquor-based fruit-flavored drinks, the good thing about fruit brandy is that you only need to leave it for a night,” Fujiyoshi said.
I tried the pear brandy. Its rich taste from the brandy’s sweetness mixed with pear flavor came as a surprise.
“Maybe because brandy is distilled from grapes, it goes well with fruit,” he added.
Fujiyoshi, who likes working out, is a popular blogger known as Kinniku Ryorinin — literally “the muscular cook.” He has published six cookbooks and also teaches a cooking class run by a local government. He learned about fruit brandy three years ago from another blogger and started making it himself. He explains how to make it on his blog.
Though any kind of fruit can be used to make fruit brandy, he recommends that it be very ripe and sweet.
“Fruit that is about to spoil is nice and suitable,” he said. “If you can get it cheap at a fruit store, you should use it.”
Fruits that grow in tropical climates, such as papaya and pineapple, as well as persimmons currently in season are good for the brandy. Brandied fruits are not suitable for eating, but can be used in paste-like sauces for meat dishes or to add flavor to sweets.
Fruit brandy can be enjoyed in many ways. Drink it straight or mixed with club soda or ginger ale. Pour it into hot tea, or put rosemary, cloves or cinnamon into it for additional flavors. Mixing it with wine is also a treat.
One of the reasons Fujiyoshi works out is because he wants to enjoy eating and drinking. When he wants to relax after dinner he said it’s so nice to sip fruit brandy on the rocks.
“Because it’s easy to make, it’s no hassle for busy people,” he said. “Have a go and see for yourself.”
How to make fruit brandy
1. Rinse fruit (150-200 grams) and wipe dry. Wash and sterilize leakproof jar.
2. Cut fruit into slices. See below for details on specific fruits.
3. Put slices into jar, pour brandy (300 milliliters) over top and seal lid. Leave overnight in cool place away from direct sunlight.
Orange: Peel orange and remove pith. Slice in rounds then place in brandy.
Pear: Peel pear. Remove core and seeds and cut into slices.
Fig: Keep skin on and slice in rounds. Add two to three slices of lemon.
Pear and goji berries: Put pear slices and a little over a tablespoon of goji berries with a stick of cinnamon into jar.
■ When fruit brandy is ready, the fruit can be left in the jar, but you need to remove it sometime between the third and seventh day. Remove fruits like banana that fall apart easily within two days.
■ Make sure to remove citrus pith because it makes the brandy taste bitter.
■ To use brandied fruit later, remove any core and skin beforehand.
■ It is forbidden by law to infuse grapes in alcohol without a license.
Mixed with club soda
Pour two or three tablespoons of fruit brandy and 150 milliliters of club soda into a glass with ice cubes. Ginger ale can also be used, or syrup added for a sweeter taste.
Ice cream float cocktail
Pour two tablespoons of fruit brandy and 100-150 milliliters of ginger ale into a glass with ice cubes. Add vanilla ice cream according to taste. Top the ice cream with a small amount of paste made from the brandy-soaked fruit.
Mixed with hot tea
Pour hot tea, two tablespoons of fruit brandy and honey according to taste into a cup.
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