Friday, November 9, 2012

Brandied Fruit (Tutti-Frutti) and Chutneys


Foods preserved in alcohol are "brandied." Wines and foods containing over 14% alcohol by volume are self-preserving. Wines and foods with a weaker concentration of alcohol can become sour and vinegary. Brandied food should be kept cool and airtight. Burying it deep in the ground works well. The trouble with preserving food by brandying it is that it will give you a hangover. I'd hate to have to get drunk to eat.

Tutti-frutti is the most common and versatile sort, because you can eat it straight, use it for an ice cream or general dessert topping, or make a sort of fruit cake out of it (actually better than eating it straight).

Incidentally, baking or boiling evaporate most, but not all, alcohol in any recipe. Despite the cooking, 10-15 percent of the alcohol will remain. You can indeed get intoxicated from fruit cake--if you eat enough of it.

You can start with 1 1/2 c. fruit and 1 1/2 c. sugar. For your first mixture, half-drained crushed pineapple and half-drained chopped canned peaches are good, along with 6 chopped maraschino cherries. (Peaches brandy best, and after them, cherries). A package of dry yeast stirred in helps to get the fermentation off to a quick start. Stir it several times the first day. At least every 2 weeks after that, add 1 more c. sugar and 1 more c. fruit. Alternate your fruit so you don't end up with all the same thing. Don't put it in the refrigerator, but don't have it too near the heat either.

Once you get it going, you can give up a cup of "starter" to friends who can soon work up their own supply of tutti-frutti from it. The mixture is at its best after 4 weeks have passed. you can take out fruit to use as needed, but try not to let what's left get below 1 cup. To have more, just add more fruit and sugar ahead of schedule. You can use fresh, canned or frozen fruits such as Bing cherries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, pears, or fruit cocktail as well as the first ones I mentioned. But if pears and fruit cocktail are used, treat them gently so they don't become too mushy. Don't use bananas.

Be sure to keep the fruit under the liquid. You can use a weighted saucer to hold it down. Fruit exposed to air will darken in color and taste too fermented. 

Mash 1/2 c. butter together with 1 c. sugar until well mixed. Add 4 eggs, 3 c. flour, 2 t. soda, 1 t. cloves, 1 t. allspice, 2 c. your brandied fruit of any sort, 1 1/2 c. applesauce, 1 c. raisins, and 1 c. nuts. This bakes best in an angel food -type pan because it is very moist--a buttered 9-inch tube pan would be right. It takes a long time to back--70 or 80 minutes or more in a moderate oven (350 degrees F).


Chutney is a fruit or vegetable mixture, flavored with spices, and cooked with sweetening and vinegar until it has a thick, jam-like texture. You can use slightly overripe fruits and vegetables for this. Possible vegetable ingredients for a chutney are beets, carrots, eggplant, onions, peppers, pumpkins, rutabags, squash, tomatoes, or turnips. Fruit ingredients (fresh or dried) could be apples, bananas, berries, citrus fruits, cranberries, plums, lemons, mangoes, peaches, pears, or rhubarb. Typical herbs and spices in a chutney are allspice, bay leaves, cayenne, chili, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, horseradish, juniper, mustard seed, paprika, and/or peppercorns. Some sugar is usually added: white, brown or mollasses. (Most chutneys are dark colored).

Combine 1 1/2 c. sugar, 3/4 c. wine or cider vinegar, 1/2 c. chopped onions, 1/2 c. raisins, quartered and thinly sliced lemon, 2 T. minced fresh ginger root, 1 t. black mustard seed, 1 t. salt, 1/2 t. cardamom, and 1/2 t. red chile pepper flakes in a big pan. Heat to boiling. Add 2 lb. peeled and chunked fruit (peaches, mangoes, or pears are good in this recipe) or vegetable from list above to the pickling sauce. Cook, stirring often, until the food is tender but not mushy. 

Put 1/2 lb. finely chopped onion in a pan with 1/4 c. vinegar. Cook on low heat until soft. Add 2 lb. green tomatoes, 1/2 lb. peeled, chopped apples, 3/4 c. vinegar, 1/2 lb. sugar, 1/2 t. salt, and 1 t. of a pickling spice mixture (in a spice bag). Cook until the tomatoes and apples are soft. Boil until thick. 

Chop 1/2 lb. onions. Cook on low heat in 2 T. vinegar. Remove the pits from 2 lb. plums. Simmer them in 2 c. vinegar with 1 t. ground ginger, 1 t. cloves, and 1/2 t. dry mustard. Stir in 1/4 lb. sugar until dissolved. Boil until thick. 

[Adapted from the "Sugaring--and Fruit Preservation" section of Chapter 7: Food Preservation.  Illustration copyright 1994 by Cindy Davis.]

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