Here’s to thee, old apple tree,

That blooms well, bears well.

Hats full, caps full,

Three bushel bags full,

An’ all under one tree.

Hurrah! Hurrah!

Each year I wonder what to do with my abundant apple harvest. There’s the usual juicing for cider and canning for juice, pies, and applesauce. I dehydrate some and cold-store others for winter eating. Then, with an eye to holiday gift-giving I make Apple Pie Brandy. It tastes like apple pie in a glass!

Give yourself a seven- to eight-week head start to make this cordial for holiday sipping and gifting.

Apple pie brandy
    1 clean quart jar and lid
    1 cup sugar OR ¾ cup honey OR ¼ cup Truvia, or to taste
    Two 2-inch pieces of whole cinnamon sticks
    Scant pinch of nutmeg
    3½ to 4 cups chopped apples, cored, but not peeled
    Brandy

Add the sweetener, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and apples to the jar. Top with brandy to the shoulders of the jar. Screw on the lid and shake the jar to distribute the sugar. Shake the jar daily for about a week, until the sugar has dissolved. Store the jar in a cool, dark pantry or cupboard for six weeks.

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With just a few ingredients you can make warming holiday gifts with your autumn-harvested apples.
Strain the brandy, reserving apples. Further clarify the brandy by straining through coffee filters, changing them as they clog up, or use cheese cloth.

Pour the brandy into pretty decanters or canning jars topped with fabric and tied with twine, ribbon, or raffia. Add a label, and spread the cheer!

Holiday visitors will enjoy a small warming glass of brandy at your hearth side, too. If desired, you may use the reserved apples to make a tasty, brandy-infused pie or tarts!

You may make pear brandy, also. Just be sure to use pears that are still firm, not soft, otherwise the finished libation will be cloudy. Proceed as with apples, but reduce the cinnamon by half and add a full pinch of nutmeg or a half-pinch of allspice or mace.

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