For every pound of fresh fruit combine the following:
- 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar (depending upon the sweetness of the fruit)
- 1/3 cup water
- Peel of 1/2 lemon or 1/4 orange
- About 2 inches of a vanilla bean, split
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or cinnamon, a piece of dried chile, a few black peppercorns, or other spices (all optional)
- Bring to a simmer and cook until clear. Cool. Stir syrup and flavorings into 2 1/4 cups 80-proof brandy or cognac
- Sterilize jars and lids in dishwasher by running through the short-wash and dry cycles.
- Peel and slice 1 pound ripe fruit and sprinkle lightly with fresh lemon juice.
- Pack fruit into sterilized jars, leaving about 1/2 inch head space. Pour in brandy mixture, adding a piece of the zest and vanilla bean to each jar. Seal and store in a cool, dark place for a minimum of 3 weeks.
- Keep topping off jar with more brandy or cognac as you use the fruit. As long as it is submerged in the alcohol, it is safe to eat. Keeps well for 9 to 10 months or longer if stored in refrigerator.