In the late summer, when the berries and other fruits start to appear in the farmer’s markets, I just can’t help but want to do stuff with them. They’re so, so beautiful. This year, I decided to splurge on some gorgeous blackberries to test out a homemade blackberry brandy. I’ve been wanting to try fermenting other fruits, and this seemed like a good time.
This recipe is an adaptation of my first brandy, the Plum Brandy that’s nearest and dearest to my heart.
What I learned in the making:
- You need the same equipment for this as you do the Plum Brandy:
- A 2-gallon fermenter
- Stirring paddle
- The blackberries I used were perfectly ripe, but the liqueur came out pretty tart, so I had to infuse it with a bit of cinnamon and give it a bit more sugar to get it where I wanted it.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t writing this blog when I made the blackberry brandy this year, and didn’t think about documenting the progress, but I’ll take photos while I make this next year. Suffice to say, however, it follows the same process as the Plum Brandy, up to the final infusion and “back-sweetening” process that occurs post-fermentation, which I found necessary when my liqueur came out a little more tart than my tastebuds liked.
Be careful with back-sweetening, however. When you back-sweeten with sugar, you feed the yeast in your hooch, which can get you back into that tooty zone where your booze starts offgassing. If you don’t give the gas a chance to escape, you just might have a small pantry explosion. You can avoid this problem by using a non-fermenting sweetener like Splenda, but to be honest, I just used sugar, and I didn’t have any problems. The existence of the added brandy in this recipe may offset some of the danger by diluting your liqueur and thus, your yeast. But if you don’t want to risk it, use Splenda instead.
The end result is a gorgeous, well, blackberry-colored liquid that you just can’t wait to sip throughout the winter. The guys at Great Fermentations thought this was the best thing I made this season, that’s for sure!
- 4 pounds blackberries
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 750-ml bottle brandy
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 cup Splenda or 3/4 cup sugar
- Sterilize equipment.
- Place blackberries in fermenting bucket.
- Add sugar, covering blackberries. Stir so that sugar is completely moistened.
- Close bucket, properly affixing airlock.
- Let mixture sit in pantry for 3-4 weeks, stirring every other day.
- After 3-4 weeks, filter blackberry mixture through cheesecloth, nut bag, or jelly strainer.
- Discard fruit.
- Mix 2 parts blackberry liquid to 1 part brandy (or to taste).
- If your blackberry brandy is a little tart or dry, add 2 cinnamon sticks and either 3/4 cup sugar or 1/2 cup Splenda (Splenda is a non-fermenting sweetener that will keep the yeast in your liqueur from continuing to ferment; this is probably safer than adding regular sugar to your hooch), mix well, and allow to infuse for 2-5 days.
- Remove the cinnamon sticks, bottle, and enjoy.
Fermentation time: 3-4 weeks Infusion time: 2-5 days