The Best Homemade Peach Brandy Recipe~The Reluctant Peach Tree and A Baby Raccoon
Baby Raccoon in Peach Tree
Ripe peaches on our tree are ready to pick.
Tree Ripened Peaches
Is there anything more luscious than a juicy sweet tree-ripened peach? When we bought our house with its very own peach tree, we immediately began looking forward to our very own juicy fruit.
The only thing was, the peach tree at our new house was ugly. It leaned to the right at a precarious angle, and it was lopsided. In July it lost all of it’s leaves and stood there naked for several months. This seemed like a good indication that the tree was never going to produce fruit. In November, when everything else in our garden was going dormant, the tree decided to bloom. What the?????
How to Tell if Peaches are Ripe
Best Time to Pick Peaches
Peaches should have creamy or yellow color under the blush to indicate ripeness. Ripe peaches also have a good fragrance and a well-defined crease. If you are going to pick the fruit and use it immediately, you will want it at the peak of ripeness and it should be slightly softened. A tree-ripened peach has the most sugar content. A peach that is ripened after picking will get softer and flavor might increase, but sugar content will not increase.
You can refrigerate fully ripe peaches and they will keep for a few days. If you have ripe peaches that are still firm, leave them at room temperature (65-70°F) for a day or two to fully ripen. Peaches picked green will never ripen well.
Look Tree, Produce Fruit or Die!
The next spring, the tree leafed out but never bloomed. It leaned a little more to the right. Summer came and no fruit. By November when it decided to bloom again just in time for our first snow flurries, we decided to have a serious talk with it.
“Look, Tree, you’ve got to straighten out! Bloom in the spring! Produce fruit in the summer! Act like a normal peach tree or you’re firewood!”
To emphasize the point, we tied a rope to the tree, tied the other end to the jeep and pulled the peach tree upright. Then we put a few 2 x 4s around to keep it straight. That November it did not bloom. Good sign!
Peaches at last!
Finally, last April, our wacky tree decided to produce a profusion of flowers. Another good sign! It was so exciting, and in June we were rewarded with a bumper crop of wonderful, juicy peaches. Amazingly, they were insect and disease free even though we had not used any chemicals or pesticides on them. I loved picking them and arranging a basket or bowl as a centerpiece on the kitchen table. I loved the peachy scent and enjoyed having cut up peaches on my breakfast cereal or with sugar and cream for a desert.
After we had our fill of peaches and cream, peach pie and peach shortcake, we made peach jam. We gave peaches to the neighbors and our kids and the air conditioner repairman. There were still peaches on the tree!
Nutritional Value of Peaches
A peach contains many vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, C, riboflavin and beta carotene. A peach does not have any sodium, cholesterol or fat.
A medium peach has about 40 calories
1.5g dietary fiber
Homemade Peach Jam - Yum!
Raccoons provide the "Cute" factor
O.K., I admit it, the raccoons are in this story because the babies were so darned cute! We saw the mama raccoon bring her little family out of the woods in the late afternoon for a snack of dropped peaches and daintily pick them up and nibble on them. One day we noticed one of the little ones climb the tree and not come back down. When we went out to investigate, the baby raccoon was sitting on a high branch peering out at us from between the leaves. He was just too cute, so I got my camera with the telephoto lens and snapped a few photographs of the baby raccoon before we left him alone. Eventually, he made his way down the tree and back to his mama who was calling from the woods.
Making Peach Brandy
There were still more beautiful ripe peaches, so I decided to try my hand at making peach brandy. I searched old recipe books as well as the internet and finally decided to create my own recipe using a combination of techniques I had read about.
Peach brandy is basically a mixture of fruit and sugar. When left alone for a while, it will ferment and produce a peach flavored alcoholic liquid. By adding yeast to the sugar/fruit/water mixture, the fermentation process gets a jump start.
A basket of beautifully ripe peaches.
Before you start
Before you start, make sure you have a stone crock or a few large glass or stoneware bowls. You can use plastic wrap to cover them. While the brandy is in the fermentation process, it’s a good idea to place the containers on trays in case it overflows. I learned this the hard way and had to clean up a sticky floor when my crock of brandy bubbled over during fermentation.
Peaches can be peeled if you wish, but leaving the skins on gives the brandy a pretty pink blush that is very attractive if you bottle it in clear glass.
This Peach "Brandy" is Technically Peach Wine
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 peach "brandy", it's probably in the range of wine and not true brandy.
Easy Peach Brandy Recipe
Ingredients for Peach Brandy:
- 3 quarts cut-up peaches with pits. You don't have to peel them, just cut out any bad spots. The tree-ripened peaches have the most sugar and are the juiciest. Be flexible on the amounts, you can use more or less depending on how much fruit is available and the size of your containers.
- 4 pounds sugar
- 6 cups cold water. Use chemical free water for this – purchase bottled spring water if you have chlorine in your tap water.
- 6 tsp. dry yeast
Instructions for Making Peach Brandy:
Wash peaches well and cut each one into 4 or 5 pieces. It’s fine to leave stones in, but I usually take them out because it makes more room for the peaches in the container.
Layer peaches with sugar in a large stone crock. Dissolve yeast in about a cup of warm water and add to the peaches and sugar. Pour the cold water on top to cover the peaches. Be sure to leave room for the fermenting process to bubble. Cover the crock with a plate or a clean towel and place it out of the way on a tray with low sides to catch any of the juice that might overflow the crock.
After a week, stir the mixture with a long handled spoon, cover and let sit. I like to stir it once a week for about 4 weeks. The mixture will bubble a little when you stir it. After 4 weeks, strain the mixture and discard the peach pulp and pits. Pour the brandy into bottles (I use whatever is handy from mason jars to old wine bottles). Cover the bottles tightly and store in a cool, dark place. The brandy will taste better if you let it sit for a few months.
Homemade peach brandy is wonderful poured over ice cream or just served in a small glass to sip. It’s a sweet, almost syrupy liquor, but it does have alcohol content, and tastes wonderful! Enjoy!
Note: For another special treat, try making Blackberry Brandy!
Copyright 2011©Stephanie Henkel