A mere mention of preserving and canning can cause the most confident of home cooks to run in the opposite direction, but Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi break down the surprisingly simple steps behind pickling, brining, smoking, salting, canning, fermenting and more in The Gentle Art of Preserving.

This recipe for Summer Fruits in Brandy doesn't even require a stovetop! Who knew preserving at home was so easy? Get ready to knock out a chunk of your Christmas gifts in one fell swoop.

Summer Fruits in Brandy

This method is suitable for preserving all sorts of summer fruits, including berries, plums and apricots. The boozy fruit should be ready to eat within 2 weeks, but you can leave it to mature for longer if you wish—we make this using late summer fruits to give as Christmas presents. Our favorite way of serving the boozy fruits is with ice cream, yogurt or cake. The fruity brandy is delicious served hot in shot glasses, or mixed with red wine for a variation on mulled wine. Alternatively, purée the fruits with their liquor and use as a sauce for desserts or with game dishes.

Makes approx. four 12-oz jars

  • 2¼ lbs. summer berries or fruits
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups brandy

Wash the fruit and pat dry on paper towels. Pit and halve the fruits. Divide the fruit and sugar among the sterilized jars and top up with brandy. Seal and set aside in a cool, dark place for at least 2 weeks, turning the jars upside down every day until the sugar dissolves. Store for 3 months before sampling, although it can be matured for up to a year in a cool, dark place.

The Gentle Art of Preserving by Katie Caldesi © 2014 Kyle Books. Photographs © Chris Terry. Read our review of this book.

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