Recipes for making fruit brandy?
May 24, 2010 8:37 PM   Subscribe

I am interested in trying to make fruit brandy. I have searched on the internet but have come up with many different (and conflicting) recipes so would like to hear people's suggestions and experience.

I recently identified the fruit growing on the tree at the house I rent as loquats. I got up the nerve to eat one, and holy cheese-monkies, they are tasty.

Unfortunately, it looks like the tree is only in season for a short time, and the fruit are going bad quickly. I looked up ways of making preserves or something out of them, and came across a mention of making fruit brandy. It seemed simple enough, and I was intrigued, so I looked for more information.

The information I found is conflicting. One recipe says just shove the fruit in a jar, packed in sugar, and let sit. Some recipes say fruit, sugar, and some brandy to start. Some tell me to add yeast*, some do not. One says to just put them in water. Some say closed containers**, some say open containers. I am wondering if these different methods work best for different fruit, or if they result in different end products.

I have never done any sort of homemade alcohol before, but as a scientist, I hope I can handle it. ;) Quick, share your recipes/experiences before all my fruit goes bad!

*I imagine fruit flies have already deposited yeast cultures on my spotty an brusied fruit, so adding extra yeast seems unnecessary

**I am worried about a closed container exploding from the C02 gases releasing from the fermentation process.
posted by CTORourke to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've only tried preserving fruit in brandy or rum & sugar. That's pretty basic.

I know guys who used to ferment their own, and the end result always tasted either vinegary or yeasty to me.
posted by kanewai at 8:44 PM on May 24, 2010

Making fruit liqueurs using alcohol you've bought is a lot easier than making actual alcohol and it's a good way to capture the flavor of the fruit. You just let the fruit and some sugar sit in the alcohol for a certain amount of time and then strain it. I've had success with berries; loquats might be a little challenging but I'd say peel them and then follow any recipe for making fruit liqueurs.
posted by BibiRose at 8:56 PM on May 24, 2010

You should be able to find piles of information on making fruit *wine*, not brandy, just by googling around. The very simplest way is to put big buckets out by the tree and just bruise the fruit and toss it in. That's for the daring/lazy. You can be much more careful about sterilizing things, inoculating with specific yeast, etc. You could probably find a local home-brewing supply shop for advice too. Don't know about loquats, but plum wine was easy and very good.

To go from there to fruit brandy, I think you would have to distill the fruit wine. That's a little impractical. An alternative is to create a fortified wine, where you add a spirit (e.g. brandy) and I think some sugar to the fruit wine. We did this with plum wine once and it turned out very, very yummy. It can be good for example when the fruit wine turns out too dry for your taste.

A final alternative is to make a liqueur. That would be by far the easiest. You put something flavorful into a spirit (usually a relatively flavorless spirit like vodka or everclear, but not always) and let it sit until the spirit is flavored with the something. Again, not sure about loquats, but we've done this with lemon zest to make limoncello and it was freaking fantastic. Have also done blackberry (with fruit), tangerine (with zest), cranberry in bourbon, and who knows how many others.
posted by madmethods at 8:59 PM on May 24, 2010

I don't mean to offend, but you are aware that brandy is distilled wine, right? That is, you make wine, and then you distill it into brandy.

Here's the process I'd use. Mind you, I've never made wine, only beer and mead.

1) Press the loquats (whatever that is) into juice. Throw away the solids. Add water. [The precise concentration I have no idea on for loquats. For mead, I use 16lbs honey to 5 gallons water.]
2) Bring the juice and water to a boil for a very short period of time. This step might not be strictly desirable with a wine, but will kill off the various existing inoculations of yeast and bacteria.
3) Allow to cool, and place in a five-gallon bucket.
4) Add a packet or two of reconstituted champagne yeast.*
5) Put a lid on the bucket, with a brewing airlock.**
6) Wait until the airlock stops bubbling.
7) Distill the wine. This step is a doozy if you aren't either already familiar with distillation, a chemist, or quite handy.
7a) If distillation turns out to be too much of a headache, just drink the wine.

*Natural inoculation is very chancy. You very often get highly untasty strains of yeast, and sometimes you just wind up with bacterial infections. It's much easier to get high-quality booze if you choose your yeast yourself.

**The airlock keeps undesirable shit out, while also allowing CO2 to escape.
posted by Netzapper at 9:17 PM on May 24, 2010

Go with a wine or liqueur rather than a brandy. You have to distill brandy, and there are two main problems with this -- all other things being equal:

1: It is not legal in the US of A.

2: I have loquat trees. I know about what the fruit:stone ratio is here, and know that you will never in a million years get enough loquats from one tree to make brandy.

Consider: you would need roughly 10 lbs of loquat pulp to ferment five gallons of loquat wine to a reasonable final gravity. Of that five gallons, you will have roughly 10% alcohol - or half a gallon. Unless you're using a highly efficient still, you will probably be able to only get about 70-80% of that alcohol out in your first distillation (low wines). You will then need to carry out an initial spirit run and a further rectification run, making cuts on each -- removing foreshots, heads, and tails.

In the end, for 10 lbs of loquat pulp, you will likely end up with roughly one pint of brandy. That's a lot of work for a pint; it's really not worth doing unless you have a bigger batch. many pounds (after removing the pits) do you think your tree will produce?

My tree is huge, and produces nowhere near 10lbs of de-seeded loquats.
posted by kaseijin at 10:44 PM on May 24, 2010

If, however, you are still dead-set on brandy, here's what I would think you want to do:
  • attain 10 lbs seeded loquats
  • bring 5 gallons of water to...say...170 F
  • add loquats, maybe a cup of sugar, and 1 T of yeast nutrient
  • check the temp. should be around 155-ish, after things are added. If lower, bring it up to 155
  • kill the heat, cover your container, and let cool overnight.
  • perhaps add tartaric acid to bring pH down to around 5.5
  • transfer mash to a sanitized 5 gallon bucket fermenter, pitch in one vial of liquid champagne yeast, affix lid and airlock
  • let sit for 1-3 weeks, until bubbles stop.
  • pour your fermented loquat wine into a pot still. If you are not using a bain marie or a steam jacket to heat your apparatus, then strain the wine through a pillowcase.
  • run the still as hard and as fast as possible, collect your product down until a sample will read around 25% ABV on an alcometer.
  • take your distillate, and run it back through the still...slower. Discard the first 10ml per liter at least. After that, collect everything that comes out in small glasses, again down to around 25% ABV
  • line your glasses up from first collected to last. Smell/taste each. Realize that you only want to keep the middle few glasses. Mix those together and set aside. Discard the rest.
  • run that middle part through again, with a bit of water (about a 3:1 alcohol:water ratio). Again, discard your foreshots and make your cuts.
  • take that final heart cut, cut it with spring water down to around 70% ABV, and place it in a mason jar with one or two chips of dark toasted American oak. Cover the jar with a coffee filter held in place with a rubber band. (this will allow some fusels to evaporate out, and kinda rig the acceleration of the aging process)
  • after about a week, remove the oak chips and cut the contents of your jar down to 40% ABV using spring water.
  • If all goes well, you should have some palatable loquat brandy. This is all hypothetical, of course, just a mish-mash of the little I know of home brewing and the even less I theoretically know about distillation. It would be a lot of work.

posted by kaseijin at 11:03 PM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

Closing tag.
posted by kaseijin at 11:04 PM on May 24, 2010

"Plum Wine":
Cheap vodka + a bunch of green plums + maybe some sugar
Let it sit around for a couple of months.
Sip. It is more a of liquor than a wine, of course.
But very drinkable.

Maybe loquats would work kind of the same way.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:40 PM on May 24, 2010

I made homebrew cider once and it required a huge amount of apples to make not an enormous amount of cider. Apples are much juicier than loquats and aren't 40% seed, so your tree would need to be truly heroic to produce enough loquats to make juicing and fermenting them worthwhile (let alone distilling them afterwards and getting all of the fractionation right). Also, wine is a lot harder to make than beer or cider.

On the other hand, my dad makes cherry brandy by buying decent brandy and steeping home-grown sour morello cherries (along with cinnamon, cloves and sugar) in it for a few months. He doesn't bother straining it, because the cherries themselves end up tasting pretty good. It's really nice poured over ice-cream. I'm not sure how loquats would go, but it's worth a try! Plus if you have a local agricultural show you can enter it in the liqueurs section and win small prizes. That's what he does, anyway.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:48 AM on May 25, 2010

If you want brandy, the easiest way would be to infuse store bought brandy (as opposed to distilling your own brandy or fermenting anything on your own for wine and whatnot).

1. buy brandy
2. blend edible part of loquat in blender or food processor
3. dump friut in jar
4. put some sugar in jar if you wish
5. fill jar with brandy
6. let sit for a while (2 weeks or so)
7. strain with a fine strainer (like one used for tea)
8. consume

You can also try this with other fruit / liquor combinations. In the wintertime you must try whiskey or bourboun infused with cooked bacon fat. mmm
posted by WeekendJen at 8:45 AM on May 25, 2010

There's some recent discussion on using loquats in mead on the Got Mead site.
posted by maurice at 10:02 AM on May 25, 2010

Worth pointing out that simply steeping loquats in commercial brandy does not a loquat brandy make. Rather, it makes a loquat infused brandy.

I know this seems like splitting hairs, but they are important hairs. Think lager vs. ale; you can't just use lager yeast and then call it ale because you want to call it ale.

If you want to make a fruit brandy, you have to start by fermenting that fruit.


That's all just for clarification, though, since I see people referring to various infusions as "_____ brandy." I would actually suggest doing exactly such an infusion rather than attempting to ferment/distill yourself.
posted by kaseijin at 12:07 PM on May 25, 2010

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