Today we’ll explore the wonderful Boozy world of Maceration. Marination, a term often misused in reference to this process, only goes part way to Maceration’s ultimate destination, and takes a lot longer to get there. Have you ever marinated something for two weeks?
Maceration is the art of letting foods – principally fruits – absorb alcoholic beverages to enhance their texture (making them soft and squishy) and their flavour (in obvious ways).
At left, beautifully layered Macerated Fruits, ideal for gift giving. Preserving Jars are ideal for small batches of Macerated Fruits or gift portions…
My first exposure to this ancient and luscious process was when I was just 19 and old enough to drink alcohol where I lived. My Dad came home from a weekend of Ice Fishing with his pals from work. Ice Fishing, at that time, fell into the same general category as Hunting and Fishing trips – Boozy Boys’ Night, stretched over three or four days, using the aforementioned outdoor activities as an excuse to get lost in the woods and drink. And tell tall tales.
So, I thought Dad’s story about the stuff one of the Boys brought up to the lake that Fishing Weekend was one of those tales. Until Dad started in making his own…
So taken by the idea was Dad that he had written down the ‘recipe’ on a cardboard flap torn off a Beer case. It went like this:
In a 1 gal. (3-4 L) Pickle Jar…
Add 1 pint (1 cup / 250 ml) of each of the following fruits, skins on or off as you wish and cut into approximately 3/4 in. / 2 cm pieces:
- Green Apple
- Red Apple
- Green Seedless Grapes
- Red Seedless Grapes
- Sweet Cherries
Or any combination of Fruits that comes out to 7 pints (7 cups / 1,750 ml)
Please Note: You should not use fruits like Dates or Figs, soft Berries like Raspberries or Blackberries, or soft fruits such as Plums, Peaches or Pears. They’ll just break down into a sludge – albeit a nice, sweet tasty one – during maceration. anything else is fair game from Kiwis to Star Fruit!
Add 2 cup. / 500 ml of Orange Juice plus 1/2 cup / 125 ml white sugar and stir until the ingredients are fully combined. Dad decided just to put the lid on the jar real tight and roll it up and down the Kitchen floor a few times.
By then, your Pickle Jar should be between 2/3 and 3/4 full of Fruit and Juice. Now, pour in a 26 oz. / 1 L bottle of Brandy or your favourite fortified Wine or Liqueur and mix gently until all the ingredients are equally distributed. Put the lid on very tightly, so the booze can’t evaporate!
Place in a cool, dark corner (i.e.- the cellar) for at least a week before cracking the lid and tasting. Some say you have to let the mixture mingle and steep for at least a month. I don’t know… It will last from harvest time right through the Winter. Alcohol is a great preservative.
What you’ll have is a rich, dark Boozy cocktail of softened, Macerated Fruits which you can use in many ways… Dad liked it over Ice Cream. And over Pancakes and Waffles. Of course he wouldn’t let me have any until I was 21, even though the law said I could. Sorry, Dad… I know you’re looking down from upon high, right now, and reading over my shoulder. But I have to come clean: I raided your stash! And I got hooked…
After that first batch, Dad had one on the go all the time so he’d never be skunked for his fix. One application I think he actually made up himself was a very strong summer libation consisting of 6 oz. / 175 ml of The Mixture in a large Beer Glass topped up with as much Lemon-Lime Soda as it took to fill the glass. Not quite Sangria, but something like it, only with a lot more bang for the sip!
Maceration applications abound
The simplest maceration ‘recipe’ I’ve ever come across was the steeping of 1 cup / 250 ml Raisins in enough Brandy to cover them. Macerate (let sit) until all the liquid is soaked up by the Raisins. Then add to your Fruit Cake, Scones, or Raisin Pie recipe. Or spoon into a luscious adult Trifle!
My inspiration for today’s post actually came from one in which the author recommended macerating half a cup of Yellow Raisins in the same amount of Gin to produce an arthritis pain reliever. The guy claimed that, since Gin contains Juniper Berries, and Juniper Berries are known to contain natural anti-inflammatories, it should work.
I agree that maybe, after two or three ‘doses’ of that medicine, the average arthritis sufferer would be feeling no pain, in one sense, anyway…
For further inspiration, visit www.drunkenfruit.info !
~ Maggie J.