As you will probably have gathered if you have read more than this post, I do like to get the maximum use from my produce, especially if I have grown or gathered it myself. In this, the last of my Japanese quince posts, I am getting even more out of my harvest. I’m also starting right in on my resolutions, by blogging about booze. And I assure you, this one couldn’t be easier.
I have read a lot about quince liqueurs with vodka and honey. I have also read a fair bit about quince brandy, which sounded a lot better to me. Especially after I was given a copy of Salt, Sugar, Smoke by Diana Henry for Christmas, and she gives some really tempting takes on Kir Royale using quince brandy and either French cider or English sparkling white wine. I am also thinking of taking the best of both ideas and making something with the brandy and this very special cider from Sussex, Gospel Green Champagne Method Cider (look out for them, they are from West Sussex, but don’t have a website. This is truly remarkable “bubbly” style cider) if I can get hold of some.
Fruit brandies of this kind, and those distilled from scratch used to be pretty popular. You may know them as eau de vie, rakia, or brandywine, and they are still popular across Europe, but especially in the Eastern countries – Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, and as far down as Turkey.
Of course, these are meant for quince or Cydonia oblonga, but I see no reason why they shouldn’t translate into Japanese quinces too. I selected some of the nicest fruit, and set them aside.
Then the next dilemma was whether or not to go with sugar. For advice on this, I turned to Twitter. Luckily for me, preserving queen, Vivien Lloyd and beekeeper extroadinaire, Zoë Lynch were listening, and they both said sugar was wise, so sugar it was. Thank you both, if you are reading, although I didn’t go with that much, because I figured that I can always add sugar, but I can’t take it away if the brandy is too sweet.
The brandy needs to steep for anything up to a year, so I haven’t tried this yet, but when I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.
Recipe: Japanese Quince Brandy
5-6 Japanese Quince
50 g muscuvado sugar
2 star anise
Sterilised jar wide enough to get the fruit into
Slice the quince, but leave the seeds in. Layer the quince into the jar, and sprinkle the sugar and the star anise between the layers.
Top the jar up with brandy. The fruit will be fine in here, as long as the jar is full, and the fruit doesn’t get exposed to air. I used a 700 ml jar, so needed a fair bit of brandy.
Leave it in a cool, dark place for up to 12 months, taking it out to shake it when you remember.
Strain off the brandy, and pour into a sterilised bottle, where it will keep until you have tracked down some of that excellent cider. Top up with more brandy, if necessary.
Oh, and I’m also thinking that there will be a good use for the fruit, possibly added to apples. I’m sure I’ll think of something tasty to do with them.