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Alcohol for preserving fruit


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I bought a few bottles of this at my local hypermarket to put our cherries in until the guy who was fixing our boiler said we should use Calvados!!

So...I've got 3 litres of this spirit and as I've never seen it before, wondered what it actually is??

It's clearly not vodka or gin- so does it actually have another name, and what's it made from??

Is it 'better' to use this as it has no flavour ( or does it???)

Can it be used in fruit punches, drunk neat or should only be used for fruit preserving ?

Do any of you use it??

Any recipies??

And no - it's not paint stripper as it cost 10 euros per bottle ( or was I ripped off??)

I did ask a local whilst shopping for his advice and he got very excited pointing it out to me, and as he had one of those wonderful drinker's noses I thought he'd be a chap who would have sampled a few drinks in his time!! [:-))].

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It could be any eau-de-vie but what does it say on the bottles?

Where I used to live (Ain/Savoie) they use gnaule (or gnole, niaule or niôle) made from raisin pips and skins from the vendanges or from grains to preserve cerises or pruneaux in alcohol. I guess it depends on what's grown in your area...?

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Almost anything that has sugar (malted grain, grape skins, potatoes etc) can be fermented.  When it has fermented it can be distilled to extract the alcohol.  This raw alcohol can be used in a variety of ways to produce different drinks.  Use barley as your starting point then put the alcohol in sherry/port barrels for a few years and you have whiskey. Start from grain then add 'botanicals' and you get gin use potatoes and get vodka. Start from grape skins, do some 'Harry Potter' magic and you get brandy etc.  The eau de vie is the alcohol which can be used especially well with preserving fruit as it will take on the flavour of what you put in it.  Nothing wrong with using calvados but be aware that your cherries will also taste of apples. 

It costs what it does because 1) it's in a litre bottle  2) it's usually a bit stronger (maybe 50% alcohol by volume A.B.V)

If I may,I'd like to make 2 points:

Regardless of what is says in the scientific journals, pure alcohol is NOT odourless and tasteless, I don't know how this myth ever got started, just try it sometime!

Please never refer to the alcoholic strength of something by 'Proof' it such an old fashioned measurement which just confuses things and you end up with meaningless expressions like '40% proof' which is like nails on a blackboard to me.

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Eau de vie is a bit like italian grappa, made from grapes after they have been pressed for the wine making.

Pure alcohol is tasteless so it is the ideal for preserving fruits as it will only taste like the fruit used.

in france you can only find 40%, while in italy you can buy in any supermaket 96%, at 11 euros per litre.

i use it for making limoncello, it is the only way it can be done, i tried once with the 40% and the result is very poor, 40% is not strong enough to extract the oils from the lemon zest.

unfortunately 96% pure alcohol is very dangerous to transport... (i only had 30 bottles in my trailer... [:D] last time i visited italy..)


cin cin  [B]




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Calvados is apple brandy made in Calvados in northern France.  Just like ordinary brandy or whiskies it comes in various qualities such as XO and can cost quite a bit more than 10 euros.  If that is all it cost then it is probably best for bottling fruit.  Why dont you taste it?
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Around us, in Northern France there seems to be a contest to see who can make the most revolting pre-prandial from black walnuts!

The recipe varies and I do know that they buy the alchohol from local pharmacies.

I also know that when I have sipped a little, for the rest of the evening my mouth feels bone dry as if I have been eating Alum!

At first I fed it to my host's dogs. After two died.........................................

(No animals were injured in writing this post. All scenes were derived from the fevered imagination of the poster after he had sniffed some rural walnut hooch!)


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That sounds thoroughly disgusting stuff Gluestick - are you sure it isn't some ancient Norman waterproofing liquid that they painted along the waterline of moats?

We won some stuff at a Church tombola once.  Estonian something-or-another, Lord above knows what it was made of but the only person we found brave enough to sample it was an old boy - also a serious alcoholic - who was so enamoured with it we gave him the whole bottle!   Generous huh!

This was the same old boy who, when asked by the doctor how many units he drank a day said "Hand on heart I only drink two or maybe three units a day doc!".     Duly impressed the doctor probed further with his questioning and was horrified when he realised that our old chum actually thought a Unit was a Bottle, thus explaining the state of his liver etc.   Despite that, ten years on he is still alive and probably craving that Estonian firewater!

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Eau de vie de fruits is for preserving anything, and isn't supposed to add any flavour. Don't go drinking it neat - yeugh!

You use it like making sloe gin - as in put fruit and some suger (to taste, bearing in mind you can't try it for 3 months so you have to work it out from last year's batch!) then pour over the eau de vie and leave for at least 3 months. Mum used to get hers every year when in France as AFAIK it's not available in the UK.

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Framboise, your story reminds me of a busines trip I made to mexico in the late 70s.

My host and Mexican pointman for the Government, was a lovely man; very wealthy and gave me two bottles from his estate: one was Tequila the other Margarita. Not commercial, very strong.

The only person who seemed to like it was my mum in law, bless her, who was no way a drinker but took to this hooch like a duck to water! Didn't seem to harm her!

A few years ago when we were in Paxos, in the Ionian, another lovely man, a retired builder and superb bazooki player, called Paris, insisted on us going to see his home and his sprawling number of appartments and small holiday villas. He insisted we drink some colourless stuff which apparently his friend brought over from Crete from time to time.

As I cautiously sipped some, I felt my tongue, cheeks, lips etc being numbed: and as the first drops slid down my thoat, anaesthetising my tonsils, windpipe and gut, I realised some caution was in order!


Still at least, later that week when the guitarist was very late, I go to sit in with the bazooki band!


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  • 2 weeks later...

My experience is;

After the normal Calvados and coffee, Calvados drinks, out comes a preserving jar with 2 large spheres inside. After much intrigue, the contents were described as Quarante Quartre (44 if i've spelt thin wrong), and the spheres were 2 oranges.

From what we understand, the home made Calvados is further distilled to Eau de vie and that is the base liquid of the Quantro copy.

We have tried the following recipie with both a supplied Eau de vie, and some of the fruit's de alcohol from the supermarkets, both with success;

1 large perserving Jar
2 large oranges, pricked with a knife 44 times and placed in the preserving jar (you could get awa with 1 orange)
44 sugar cubes disolved in enough eau de vie to fill the preserving jar (add more to taste during next couple of months)
44 coffee beans (to give colour)

Leave for a couple of months, and voila, you have our your home made Quantro.

Passed the recipie to friends who devourd a litre in 1 evening.

Give it a try (no responsibility taken for any misshaps etc...)

Anyone else got any recipies to share  ????

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I tried that 44 for the first time the other night, and liked it so much I begged the recipe.  The only difference between what I was told and your recipe is that my friend stuffs the 44 coffee beans into the 44 holes in the orange.  It tastes like a hybrid of Cointreau and Tia Maria.
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recipe Cedric Dickens gave my father some years ago for Cassis:

1lb blackcurrants

1/2 lb sugar

put together in a kilner jar and put it in the loo (i.e. in the smallest room, not actually in it like my friend thought!!!)

Everyone using the loo turns the jar over.

After 2 days, add a bottle of brandy, cork and put back in the loo for a week.

Strain, bottle and keep!
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