Brandy or Cognac can be used as long as it is a minimum of 80-proof.
This is a formula you can use for whatever amount of fruit you choose. The idea is to put up only fruit with outstanding flavor. It should be ripe and bruise free. Peeling or not peeling is up to you, but do try to use organic produce if possible.
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.