Pickling Fruits & Vegetables in Alcohol

Food preservation generally evokes visions of Pickles, Jelly, dried veggies strung on a decorative braid such as braided garlic, or even fruits and vegetables preserved in oils. Fruits and vegetables can also be preserved in alcohol – spirits such as vodka, cognac, brandy or even wine. Not only does the alcohol preserve the produce, the flavors meld and create an entirely new decadent taste sensation to toast the occasion.

Some methods such as ‘Artichoke Hearts Marinated in White Wine‘ require the produce be kept in the liquor until it is consumed while other methods consist of steeping the fruit or vegetable in the alcoholic beverage for a period of time – generally a few weeks. At the culmination of a pre-designated steeping period, you’ve created not only a preserved food but transformed your alcoholic beverage into a new concoction.

Liqueur infused fruits are not a new idea they have been around since the dark ages. One such example is a classic German preserve known as rumtopf . Most recipes for rumtopf are initiated early in the season with strawberries or other spring fruits and amended to in layers as fruits naturally ripen. By the yuletide season, when it was traditionally consumed you had a spirited fruity dessert of a dozen or more fresh fruits preserved in alcohol.

Fruit Liquers can be made from any ripe fruits or berries. Vodka is most commonly used as it does not overly hamper the natural flavor of the fruit. In fact it takes on the flavor of the fruit not only creating a tasty dessert, the fruit itself – but the brine – the vodka is salaciously slugged down in shot glasses.

Spices are also a welcome addition. Allspice, cinnamon and cloves are frequently used, some recipes also call for liquid flavoring agents such as vanilla extract.

Strawberries in Vodka

A simple recipe I’ve used is for Strawberry Vodka – although other fruits can be substituted for the strawberries. Frozen fruit can also be used.

1 lb. strawberries

3 cups vodka 

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

1. Rinse the strawberries. Remove the stems and slice lengthwise – top to bottom into halves.

2. Place strawberries in a suitable container or containers such as mason jars, add your vodka leaving about 1/4 inch headspace.

3. Store in a cool dark location – your refrigerator will suffice – for several weeks. Check on it and give it a shake weekly – not weakly but weekly.

In about 3 months the strawberries reach their peak of perfection. Pour the vodka/brine into a new bottle, it’s still good, not only good – it’s great, having taken on some the strawberry essence.

The liquored berries can be used for ice cream or dessert toppings or topped themselves with nuts, syrup, sugar, and devoured as-is. I like them with some confectioner’s sugar and walnuts.

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