Plum and Pear Liqueurs

The pears are so ripe on my tree they are falling in droves, thudding loudly on the metal roof of the garage and littering the pathway to the garden. Wasps feast on their sweet flesh doing happy little buzzing dances. On the edges of my yard are feral plum trees covered in sharp thorns which produce the sweetest red plums. My mother found enough to make a beautiful jam, but mine didn't produce more than a handful, so I nabbed some prune plums from the market instead and set my heart on making pear and plum infused brandies. The end of the season is at hand and I have no intentions of missing out!

Pear Liqueur

7-9 overripe pears
2 inch knob of fresh ginger root
2 large cinnamon sticks
1 cup brown sugar
1 litre brandy or dark rum

Wash the pears, remove the stems, slice them into eighths, de-seed them, and then place them in a large canning jar or pickle jar. Wash the ginger root and cut it into large slices and toss those in the jar too. Then crush two extra long (or four shorter)whole cinnamon sticks with a mortar and pestle or bash them with a rolling pin. Add a cup of brown or demerara sugar, add the brandy, add the lid, and then shake it! Then put it away in a cupboard and shake it every day or two. 

After a month, strain it with a sieve and cheesecloth, add more sugar or honey to taste, and let it age another month (if you can!). Strain it again, trying to leave behind any sediment and bottle it. It's a delicious treat to sip after dinner, a fun ingredient to cook with (ice cream, booze soaked cakes, trifle, poached pears...), and a great gift to give away for Christmas if made soon. I think it may find it's way into some hot toddies and hot ciders this fall.

Spiced Pear Hot Toddy

1-2 shots of pear liqueur
1-2 cups boiled water
1 earl grey tea bag
1-2 lemon wedges
1 small cinnamon stick
1-3 tsps of honey to taste

Whether you are looking for a hot drink to warm you up on a rainy autumn day or something to help with a cough and sore throat, this is a very tasty way to use your pear liqueur. Steep your tea with all the ingredients for 5-15 minutes and then sip and savour.

Wild Plum Brandy

2 pints wild plums
2 cups of unpasteurized honey
1 litre fine brandy

This recipe works best with tree-ripened fruit that smells amazing even before you take a bite. Damsons, prune plums, and cherry plums all work well. I don't wash them as I want to keep the bloom and the fragrant skin. If you buy them from a store you may want to wash the plums though. Simply slice them in half, remove the pit, and place in a large canning jar. Add the honey and the brandy, swirl around until the honey mixes in a bit and put away in a cupboard. Swirl it around every day or so to mix in the honey. I swirl instead of shake this recipe because the plums fall apart easily and create a lot of unwanted sediment.

After a month, strain it the same as you would the pear liqueur, sweeten it with more honey if your plums are very tart, and bottle to age for a month before drinking. Divine!

Plum Sour Cocktail

2 shots plum brandy
1 tsp (or two droppers) of dandelion and burdock bitters
1 lemon wedge
top with soda water

If you like whiskey sours, you will love this. It was so popular at a party I threw, my friends drank all my homemade plum brandy in the form of this cocktail.

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