Saturday, 10 January 2015

BRANDIED VANILLA FIGS AND APRICOTS (FARMER'S DAUGHTERS)




According to one of our cookbooks January is the time to bottle dried fruit. I have always wanted to try bottling fruit and I decided that it was going to happen this weekend. And it turned out to be a lot less complicated than I had anticipated (had hoped?). The process could rather disrespectfully be described as 'toss all ingredients together into a large jar and put a lid on it'. But such a description just doesn't do justice to the beautiful soaked fruits, the devine flavours coming out of the jar already and the amazing colours shining from behind the glass of the jar. And be honest, it's a welcome change to prepare something in the kitchen already knowing it will be a success, isn't it? I think so too!




In the Netherlands we call brandied apricots Boerenmeisjes, litteraly translated it means 'girls from the farm'. In my experience 'girls from the farm' are apparently automatically the farmer's daughters. The main ingredient of Farmer's Daughters and the Brandied Vanilla Figs is of course the brandy. Brandy was made in the southern wine regions of Europe during the Late Middle Ages. Wine spoiled quikly and in order to preserve the alcohol it was distilled. The distillate they called brandy, from 'burned wine'. In Dutch the etymology is maybe more clear. Burned wine is translated as 'gebrande wijn' and brandy in Dutch is 'brandewijn'. Brandy had an alcohol percentage of 35%. Nowadays Dutch brandy isn't distilled wine anymore but made from alcohol with additional sugars and spices. English and German brandy (Weinbrand) on the other hand are still made in a tradtional manner. The most well-known brandy is French cognac: dubble distilled white wine made from special grapes growing in the French Cognac region. Cognac has a alcohol percentage of at least 40%. Cheers! In the Netherlands there's a particular brandy especially made for bottling fruit: Gorter inmaakbrandewijn.





Brandied Apricots: Farmer's Daughters
Makes 1 L with a unopened shelf life of six months. After opening keep in the fridge for one month.

Ingredients
500 ml brandy
250 gr dried apricots, soaked for at least 8 hours (preferably overnight) 
150 gr sugar 
Peel from 1 organic orange
1 vanilla pod
Optional: 1 cinnamon stick

1. Soak apricots for at least 8 hours, but preferably overnight. 

2. Drain and rinse apricots and let leak in a sieve. Cut vanilla pod open lengthwise. Sterilize the jar(s) you want to use. 

3. Put all the ingredients in the jar en fill up with brandy. Close the jar and let the apricots infuse for at least 6 weeks on a cool and dark place. Flip the jar every one or two weeks to dissolve the sugar. 

Serve as dessert with ice cream, cottage cheese or pancakes. Brandied apricots are also good friends with grilled chicken. 




Brandied Vanilla Figs
Makes 1 L with a unopened shelf life of six months. After opening keep in the fridge for one month.

Ingrediƫnten:
500 ml brandy
250 gr figs, soaked for at least 8 hours (preferably overnight)
125 gr sugar
4-5 star anise
1 vanilla pod

1. Soak figs for at least 8 hours, but preferably overnight. 

2. Drain and rinse figs and let leak in a sieve. Cut vanilla pod open lengthwise. Sterilize the jar(s) you want to use. 

3. Put all the ingredients in the jar en fill up with brandy. Close the jar and let the figs infuse for at least 6 weeks on a cool and dark place. Flip the jar every one or two weeks to dissolve the sugar. 

Serve as dessert with cinnamon ice cream or as part of a cheese board. Brandied Vanilla Figs are also good friends with steak.



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