All of my boozy adventures started with plum brandy. One year, I was excited about the plum harvest and made a plum brandy out of it and after that, there was no stopping me. In fact, this is a requested gift by family and friends every year.
This recipe is one that was inspired by a Saveur recipe for Tuica de Prune, a Slavic recipe. I studied several recipes and played around with formulations, and realized that some of the steps required in the Saveur recipe weren’t necessary, with the right equipment. I’ve also played around with a few other recipes, but this is the one that we like best.
You need equipment for this one.
You don’t need much equipment, but there are a couple of things that are pretty important. First, you’ll need a bucket. I used this 2-gallon plastic wine fermenter from Midwest Supplies. It’s about $4.99, and you can reuse it again and again.
Second, you’ll need an airlock. When fruit and sugar ferment, they put off a gas. That’s right, your fruit toots. So you need something to let that gas out, or there’s at least some potential for a minor explosion in your pantry. The airlocks are cheap. I picked mine up from Midwest for $1.29.
Third, you’ll need a sterilizer. You want to keep the good stuff like yeast in, but keep the bad stuff out. I use LD Carlson’s Easy Clean, a no-rinse powder cleanser. I bought 8 ounces at Great Fermentations for less than $5, and Midwest carries a similar product for $5.99.
Fourth, it’s a good idea to have a sterilizable stirring spoon or paddle. I bought mine from Midwest for $3.79.
Finally, when your plums are done fermenting, you’ll need a jelly strainer bag and stand or some cheesecloth to filter everything. I’ve found that a bag for straining nut milk works very well, while the jelly strainer bag is a little on the slow side. And in case I haven’t mentioned it, despite my affinity for projects that require waiting, I’m impatient.
You need a lot of fruit.
You can make the recipe as-is to keep it small for your own liquor cabinet, but for gift-giving, I doubled it and was happy with the yield.
What I learned in the making:
- Fruit has natural yeast already on it, so you don’t need extra yeast in this recipe. Still, don’t wash your fruit too well or you won’t have much natural yeast left. I pretty much run the fruit under water and rinse it off and leave it at that.
- Stir your mixture every other day, otherwise some pretty creepy stuff can form.
- You should always give your hooch to experts to try out! I gave mine to the guys at Great Fermentations to test and they loved this one!
What it looks like in progress:
First, you’ll want to get some really nice plums. It’s better if they’re a little bit hard. Every year, I worry about the ripeness of my plums, but slightly unripe is okay.
Chop your plums roughly. That means you don’t have to have even chops or worry about how big they are. I usually half the plums, throw out the pits, then cut the halves in half and then in half again.
Throw the plums in the bucket and then throw in the sugar. Stir everything up and mash it all around until the plums are somewhat disheveled and the sugar is completely moistened.
Every other day, stir your plum and sugar mixture. After a few days, you’ll notice that things are starting to liquify. Yay! A few days after that, you’ll notice that there’s a slightly boozy scent in your pantry. Yay again! That means your fermentation process is offgassing properly.
After 3-4 weeks, you can pull the bucket out of the pantry. You’ll want to strain the mixture so you get rid of the fruit and slurry at the bottom. When it’s all strained, your plum booze should look like this:
This is when you’ll add your brandy. I bought mine at Costco, where I’ve become convinced that they’re just waiting for the day when I join AA, because I buy booze in big quantities for various projects in my pantry.
You can play around with the ratios here. I like a 2:1 mixture of 2 parts plum booze to 1 part brandy. But your taste buds might prefer something different. Experiment.
You’ll end up with something awfully pretty that looks like this: