Thursday, 1 September 2011

Preserving Summer

“The other country, is it anticipated or half-remembered?”
      – Carol Ann Duffy, In Your Mind, from The Other Country.

Places have their own tastes.
Watching Jamie Oliver often leaves me exasperated. His passion for Italian food means that he is scrupulous in his use of authentic Italian ingredients. He forgets that his audience reside outside Italy. Bresaola*, porcini mushrooms and squid ink (to dye your pasta black!), are not exactly reasonably priced or widely available. This is logical; they’re not produced here.
I look forward to these regional tastes when I am elsewhere. The taste of corn, barbeque, peaches and blueberries mark August in Canada, for me. After seeing this cocktail Californian Emily Shulman of cupcakes and, I knew what I had to do when I was in Canada. Make peach vodka.
Even if peaches do not grow readily where you’re from, this is still a sweet reminder of summer. I think it would make fine Christmas presents too, if you dare think ahead.
My recipe is probably closer to Peach Schnappes. This was my Mum’s summer drink of choice for years and it feels beautifully 1980s. How many times can you think of other quintessentially 1980s things and say 1980s and beautifully together?

Peach Vodka Recipe
4 large peaches
½ cup of sugar (Omit the sugar and water if you’re more of a food puritan. I think it brings out the peach flavour and juice more.)  
1 cup of water
375 mL of vodka (don’t bother buying anything expensive; you’re just flavouring it).

Slice peaches and cut them into small chunks (use your largest cutting board-- I ran out of space with my attractive but smaller wooden one). 

I bought some white peaches unknowingly. I leave the skins on to colour the liquor.

Put the chunks into a saucepan and add the sugar and water. Heat to dissolve the sugar and mash the peaches for a couple minutes to try to get as much juice as you can out of them.

Put them into a large bowl and let the mixture cool for a few minutes. Add vodka. Cover with cling film.

After a couple days or about a week, strain the liquid from the peach mush. Scoop out the more solid chunks** of peach from the liquid.

Get another large bowl for the finished peach vodka to strain into. Put a coffee filter or cotton muslin cloth/j cloth overtop of a strainer or just the bowl to strain the smaller bits from the liquid.

This liquid is the finished product. The colour is more rosy and less opaque in person. I only strained mine once so there are miniscule bits of peach when you look at the liquid closely. I like to think of it as evidence that it's homemade.
 If you want your vodka free from any bits, you should probably strain it 2-3 times. 

If you want to impress your foodie friends or want the taste to be less sweet, you could easily add a few sprigs of mint, basil or thyme to the peaches when you’re heating the mixture up and giving the vodka time to be flavoured.  A couple of vanilla pods would also look attractive in the bottle that you ultimately put the drink in. 
This drink is supposed to be an intensely peach drink. Use fewer peaches or a larger bottle of vodka if you would like a more subtle peach flavour, closer to the peach vodka commercially available.

Happy Indian Summer (I hope).

*My dictionary did not know how to spell this foreign word.
** My Mum thought the peach chunks would be great with some ice cream and a drizzle of the Peach Vodka. I would trust a Peach Schnappes aficionado.


  1. a great recipe, i can't wait to try it we are going to make it and then drink it

  2. If it were any stronger, it might be trouble. But at this light strength it's just pure sun-drenched relaxation.