When life hands you a bushel or a peck of some fruit at the height of its season, as it is shortly going to do this summer, you’ll eat lots out of hand, but then you’ll wonder if there is a way to preserve that goodness.
Sure there is, and with a smart new half-guide, half-cookbook, you have everything you need in one place!
Called “Put ‘em Up! Fruit,” (by Sherri Brooks Vinton; Storey Publishing $19.95), this book might truly be your one-stop shop. It has 80 recipes for preserving 18 different fruits (apples, apricots, blackberries and raspberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, quince, rhubarb, strawberries and tomatoes), along with clear instructions for the boiling water method of canning, and such necessities as acidity, pectin, sterilization, etc.
But, most importantly, I think, it also has an additional 80 recipes for ways to use those preserves you just made. So, for example, we make a Cherry Mostarda and then use it in a Nut-Crusted Goat Cheese. We make a Cherry Almond Relish, and use it in a Turkey Wrap. We make Maraschino Cherries and use them in a Momma’sManhattancocktail. We then make a Cherry Ancho Chile Jam and use it in Pulled-Pork Tacos. Finally, we make a Classic Cherry Jam and use it with a Sauteed Duck Breast.
I have my eye on Lemon, Red Onion, and Oregano Jam. How good would that be with grilled sausages, roast chicken or burgers even? I also like the idea of Thyme Herb Jelly, Apricots in Honey Syrup, Blueberry Ketchup (yes!), Grapefruit Sections in Lavender Syrup, Lemon Ginger Marmalade…oh stop me before I just bookmark every single recipe.
But I stopped cold when I saw the recipe for Limoncello. I made a similar version, oh, 25 years ago, and it was the best stuff ever! The technique is interesting. You suspend the lemons over grain alcohol, and the alcohol evaporation encourages the oils and juice to be released from the fruit.
Let’s make it! It should be ready in time for mid-summer.
Summary: Limoncello Italian lemon liqueur is sunshine in a bottle – light, lemony, lethal, complex, nuanced and addictive! Serve it chilled, over ice or cut half and half with seltzer.
- 2 pounds lemons (about 8-10)
- 1 (1.5-liter) bottle grain alcohol, such as Everclear
- 4 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- Using a vegetable brush, scrub the fruit with a nontoxic, odorless dish soap and hot water.
- Thoroughly wash a 5-gallon glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Rinse out the jar with about ¼ cup of the alcohol. Pour the rest of the alcohol in the jar.
- Place the lemons in the center of a single layer of cheesecloth. Bundle the cloth around the lemons and tie the bundle as close to the fruit as possible with a narrow strip of cheesecloth. Suspend the bundled and tied fruit inside the jar, allowing the loose cloth from the bundle to dangle over the top of the jar. Use a rubber band to secure the loose fabric around the neck of the jar. Cover the jar with the lid, making sure to create an airtight seal. Set the jar aside where it will be undisturbed for 4 to 6 months.
- The alcohol from the liquor will evaporate and condense on the fruit, releasing the fruit’s oils and juices, which will drip down into the liquor at the bottom of the jar. The process is complete when the lemons surrender their color and flavor to the liquor – the fruit will be pal and the liquid will be vibrant.
- When the lemon liqueur is ready, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let cool to room temperature and then add to the lemon liqueur. Decant into small bottles and allow to cure for at least 2 weeks. (At right is one way she suggests using it! Click on pic to see it larger.)
- The liqueur will keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
- Makes about 2 quarts
If you are a visual person, you might like to see some how-to videos for “Put ‘em Up! Fruit.”
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Resting time: 4-6 months
Diet type: Vegetarian
Number of servings (yield): 2 quarts
Culinary tradition: Italian
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