A couple of years ago, Diana Henry put out a book called Salt Sugar Smoke, which is all about preserving things.
I’m terrified of preserving things, because my kitchen is always full of dirty dishes and I’m convinced that no matter how careful I am about sterilising jars, I’m going to give everyone botulism.
However. There was one collection of recipes that that looked so simple that it was basically irresistible. Also, they are completely full of alcohol, and I defy any botulism bacteria to find a way in to something that is basically alcohol and sugar.
Also also, it’s November, and I’m about to get consumed by Christmas singing. If I don’t get onto Christmas now, I’m basically stuffed. And what could be more Christmassy than fruit preserved in excessive quantities of alcohol and sugar?
So on Sunday morning I hied me to the Farmers’ Market for stone fruits, and then to the bottle shop, where I proceeded to buy more alcohol than I have ever seen before (and probably considerably more than I have consumed in my lifetime to date, come to think of it), under the helpful supervision of the kindly Hannah at Dan Murphy’s, who took pity on my complete confusion about what eau de vie was and which kind of rum might work better in Confiture Vieux Garçon, and helped me find options that were not too outrageously expensive.
(She also very kindly did not look at me as though I was a total lush, though, to be fair, my obvious ignorance of what most of the things I was buying actually tasted like probably made it clear that I wasn’t a very promising candidate for alcoholism. Though I did get quite distracted by a Sicilian blood orange liqueur which I could absolutely not justify buying…)
Anyway, first, I want you to know that putting fruit in alcohol is awesome, and so is Diana Henry’s book. My personal favourite recipe so far is the aforementioned Confiture Vieux Garçon, which is essentially a thing where you take fruit as it is ripe, mix it with sugar and cover it with brandy, kirsch or rum, and then leave it until the next round of fruit is ripe, at which point you sugar that and add it and cover it with more alcohol, and so on, until your jar is full of layers of different kinds of fruit, all thoroughly sozzled.
But the reason I’m really writing this post, the magic, glorious thing that I discovered this weekend is because I have discovered the ultimate Christmas gift recipe. You can make it in November and then forget about it while you do all your mad Christmas parties and singing in December. In fact, you want to make it in November, because it needs time to steep and become glorious. It looks beautiful. It tastes divine. It is luxurious. And it takes less than five minutes to make.
Do I have your attention?
Here it is:
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500 g dried nectarines
750 ml white muscat Continue reading