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The Best Homemade Blackberry Brandy Recipe

Old family recipes make the most satisfying meals and are always a hit with family and friends. Here are some of Stephanie's favorites.

This homemade blackberry brandy recipe is great for many occasions.

This homemade blackberry brandy recipe is great for many occasions.

Delicious Blackberries

What could be more delicious than fresh blackberries with cream and sugar? Nothing!

On a trip to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, we happened to be camping in late August just at the time the blackberries were ripening. What a treat it was to come upon a bank of blackberry bushes just loaded with ripe, juicy, blackberries! In just a short time, we picked a gallon of berries which we took back to camp. The next few days we had blackberries and cream, blackberries on ice cream and even blackberry pancakes! We weren’t there long enough to return for another batch of blackberries to turn into blackberry brandy, but you can be sure that I’ve got the spot marked in my mind for our next visit!

Beautiful ripe blackberries.

Beautiful ripe blackberries.

Health Benefits of Blackberries

  • Berries are low in calories. 100 g has 43 calories. They are high in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and dietary fibers (100 g contains 5.3 g or 14% RDA fiber).
  • The anti-oxidants in blackberries are believed to help protect against cancer, aging, inflammation and neurological diseases.
  • Fresh berries are a good source of vitamin C. 100 g. of berries contain 23 mg or 35% of RDA Vitamin C.
Wild blackberries on the olympic peninsula. Be careful of thorns when picking blackberries!

Wild blackberries on the olympic peninsula. Be careful of thorns when picking blackberries!

All About Blackberries

Blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) are a perennial shrub covered with thorns. and are known as brambles. They are native to Europe, but are found in growing wild in the North America. They are also grown on a commercial scale in the U.S. In the wild, blackberries are found in hedgerows, along roadsides, and in fields that have been allowed to become overgrown.

Blackberry season lasts from June to September.

The berries have a short shelf life, so plan to use them quickly. They will keep in a refrigerator for a few days. Do not wash until you are ready to use them.

The berry is formed by a collection of droplets that are attached to a central stem. Each droplet is filled with juice and has one tiny, edible, seed in it.

Blackberry Brandy—Easier Than Pie!

Like many fruits and berries, blackberries have a pretty short season. If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where you can pick your own fresh berries in fields or hedgerows, you can preserve the flavor of those luscious berries by making jams and preserves. For an extra special treat, how about some Blackberry Brandy?

Making your own blackberry brandy is easier than making a blackberry pie!

Warning: When picking wild berries, make sure you get them from a place that has not been sprayed with weed killers or pesticides!

An Old Timer's Blackberry Brandy

The recipe included here is called "Brandy" by those who make it. However, technically it is wine because it is not fortified with spirits. According to Wikipedia, true brandy has an alcohol content of 30-60%. The alcohol content of wine ranges from 8-20%. Although I do not know the alcohol content of my blackberry brandy, it's probably in the range wine and not true brandy.

You can have your blackberry brandy ready to delight your friends at Christmas if you make it now. All you need are blackberries, about two to three pounds of granulated sugar, a big glass jar or crock and plastic wrap. Here’s all you do:

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Instructions for Making Blackberry Brandy

1. Pick as many ripe blackberries as you can get your little hands on. Rinse well, and pick off any stems and leaves. Don’t remove the overripe berries, they’ll just add sweetness…mmmm…

Gather ingredients: Berries, sugar, large glass jar or crock.

Gather ingredients: Berries, sugar, large glass jar or crock.

2. Get a large glass or crockery jar or crock with lid. I like those big, gallon size glass jars that pickles come in. Have some plastic wrap handy.

3. Wash the crock or jar with hot soapy water and rinse well.

4. Now put a layer of blackberries in the bottom. This layer should be about an inch high.

Layer blackberries and sugar in a large glass jar or crock. Cover with plastic wrap. Lay the lid loosely on top and store in dark  place.

Layer blackberries and sugar in a large glass jar or crock. Cover with plastic wrap. Lay the lid loosely on top and store in dark place.

5. Sprinkle a layer of sugar over the blackberries. If you’re using a gallon sized jar, use about a cup of sugar. This is not an exact science—a little more or less won’t make a whole lot of difference!

6. Put in another layer of blackberries followed by a layer of sugar.

7. Repeat layers until jar is about 1-2 inches from the top. The final layer should be sugar. Depending on the size of your jar or crock, you should have used about 3 lbs. of sugar. If you think you haven't used enough, just sprinkle it on top.

After fermentation is complete, strain brandy through cheesecloth into bottles or Mason Jars.

After fermentation is complete, strain brandy through cheesecloth into bottles or Mason Jars.

8. Pour a cup or two of water over the top. Do not use chlorinated water. If you have city water, then use bottled water.

9. Do not mix.

10. Cover top with plastic wrap and put lid loosely on the jar.

11. Place jar in dark place. Set it on a tray with low sides in case it bubbles over during the fermentation.

12. For the first 7 days, stir with a long handled spoon every other day. After a few days, you'll notice bubbles when you stir. You may also have the mixture foaming over the top of the jar. (You did put it on a tray, didn't you?)

Enjoy a sip! Enjoy your homemade Blackberry Brandy!

Enjoy a sip! Enjoy your homemade Blackberry Brandy!

A Warning About Bottling

Warning! Be sure fermentation is complete (no more bubbles rising to the top when you stir) before bottling or you could have bottles break or explode. If you need to stop fermentation, you can add alcohol to your wine in the form of brandy or vodka. As the alcohol content rises, fermentation will stop.

13. After first week, stir once each week for three more weeks, then strain through cheesecloth. If you want it really clear, you can strain through coffee filters. That will take out all of the residue, but you'll also lose some of your brandy. You’ll get less, but it will be prettier. Bottle up in wine bottles with screw caps or mason jars and store in a dark cupboard. It will be best after about three months. Go ahead and decorate the lids with fabric covers. You’ll have a lovely gift for a friend or relatives at holiday time.

More Potent Fruit Flavored Brandy

As noted earlier in this article, a true brandy is fortified with spirits and has a much higher alcohol content than wine. Many brandy recipes call for the addition of vodka or even brandy to bring up the alcohol content of fruit flavored brandies. These recipes simply call for the addition of fruit and sugar to a quantity of spirits. Although not at all like the recipe here, they are certain to be delicious, too.

You Can Use Other Fruits or Berries to Make Brandy

Some other fruits that work well are:

  • Peaches. Peach Brandy is especially delicious. See my Peach Brandy recipe for details.
  • Blueberries. Blueberries should be crushed slightly to release the juice before adding to the crock.
  • Strawberries. If the strawberries are large, cut into a couple of pieces. If you use blueberries, crush them slightly to release the juice before adding to the crock.

Making Homemade Brandy

Enjoy Your Homemade Blackberry Brandy

Did you cheat and have a taste of that lovely blackberry brandy before your three months were up? I would have! Enjoy your homemade brandy and be sure to share with your friends... they'll love you for it!

Questions & Answers

Question: The blackberry brandy recipe calls for a 1" layer on the bottom. Are the other layers 1" as well? We just discovered a field of blackberries behind our house and would love to try something other than jelly.

Answer: I think layers of 1-2" would work well. If the berries are large, you might want to squish them down to eliminate air space. Lucky you to have a field of blackberries nearby!

Question: My blackberry brandy came out tart, what can I do?

Answer: I'm surprised that it's tart. You could try adding more sugar to sweeten it to your liking.

Question: When homemade blackberry brandy is bottled, where should it be stored?

Answer: Store it in a cool, dark place.

Question: I just hit my final week with my batch of blackberry brandy, and it is still fermenting. How do I stop it so that I can bottle it? Does straining it stop the process?

Answer: I would let it be until the fermentation stops on its own. If you bottle while it is still fermenting, you take the chance of having your bottles explode. There are additives that professional winemakers use to stop the fermentation process. You can look them up on the internet if you wish, but I haven't ever used them and can't advise you on their use. Straining won't necessarily stop the process.

Question: When making blackberry brandy, does the sugar ferment out as in kombucha?

Answer: No. Although I couldn't tell you the percentages, there is still quite a high sugar content in the finished product.

Question: My brandy has a good flavor but is a bit sweet. Do you have any suggestions on how to improve my brandy's flavor?

Answer: I think the sweetness is normal. I find that this recipe is more like a liquor, but I love it!

© 2013 Stephanie Henkel

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