Making fruit-flavoured alcoholic spirits is one of mankind’s oldest hobbies. The process is not difficult, but it requires patience while the brandy ferments. The only ingredients needed to make this simple fruit brandy are fruit, sugar, a heavy sealed container, and plenty of time alone in the dark. You can use almost any kind of fruit, but plums, cherries and apples lend themselves particularly well to flavouring brandies.
Wash the fruit thoroughly. It is not necessary to peel the fruit. If you are using berries, set them aside and let them drain. For other fruits, remove all seeds, pips or cores. No further preparation is necessary for small berries such as raspberries and blackberries, though large strawberries can be halved. For larger fruit, cut into thick slices or wedges. Quarter apples, peaches and pears. Thinner slices may be used if desired.
Put a single layer of fruit in the bottom of the slow cooker. Sprinkle sugar over the fruit so that it is thoroughly dusted with sugar, but not so heavily you cannot see the fruit. Add another layer of fruit, and sprinkle that layer with sugar as above.
Repeat until the fruit and sugar is nearly at the top of the slow cooker, ending with the sugar layer. Cover the top of the slow cooker tightly with plastic wrap. Be generous with the wrap, as the seal must be airtight.
Place the lid or a heavy dish on top of the plastic wrap. Recheck to make sure the seal is still tight. Cover the top of the slow cooker.
Place the prepared slow cooker in a cupboard or another dark place and leave it for four months. You may open it up every few weeks to make sure the fermenting process is working.
You can stir the mash if you like, but not until the fruit brandy is well on its way to fermentation. Always be sure the seal over the bowl or slow cooker is airtight after opening.
The brandy liquer should be ready after four months. Line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth and prop the strainer over a glass bowl. A teapot well for this and is easier to pour from when the straining is done. Pour the mash slowly into the mesh strainer and let it filter down into the bowl below.
This may take some time. Hasten the process by gently scraping pulp to the side of the strainer. Once the liquer has been strained into the bowl, place a funnel in the mouth of the bottles and fill them with the brandy. Cork tightly and store in the refrigerator.
Add zest to the brandy by tossing a half cup of raisins in while layering the fruit and sugar. Jumpstart the fermentation by slowly pouring 3/4 cup of regular brandy over the fruit and sugar layers before sealing the slow cooker. If the finished brandy seems weak, pour 1 cup of brandy into the mix before bottling. Stir, then bottle as above.