I had the good fortune to spend two weeks last September, cooking in a beautiful Chateau on the Atlantic coast of France. Now there is one thing I absolutely love to do in a foreign country and that’s shopping. I mean food shopping in supermarkets. I know there is the obvious charm and gentle ripple of excitement when browsing through the fabulous outdoor markets that seem to be held on different days in most villages and towns in France, but you learn a lot about the mindset and shopping habits of the average French housewife. For example, on turning a corner to escape a wandering , smooth looking French man wearing a microphone and headset, whose garrulous voice was being piped over the tannoy as he stopped shoppers to rummage in their shopping trolleys and go on to ask them, with much joviality, what they were going to cook for their supper, I ask you! I came across a whole lane of shelves devoted to the art of preserving. Glass Kilner jars with orange rubber seals and sturdy metal clasps , rows upon rows, all sizes. Tubes, funnels, labels, thermometers, and all manner of utensils devoted to the art of preserving. They have so much respect for what they grow and eat, that they will think nothing of spending a whole day or weekend bottling up a glut of whatever is in season, and would have shelves groaning under the weight , to be brought out and eaten in the depths of winter.
But the thing that nearly blew me away was the ability to be able to buy a bottle of Alcool pour Fruits 40% , for €13, in a supermarket!
I know, there are many obvious reasons that we’ll never see that being allowed here in Ireland !
Anyway, I brought some home and bottled up some redcurrants from the allotment. Super easy to do, you actually don’t even really need to sterilize the jars as the alcohol will do that for you.
Pick a nice jar that you think will fit the amount of fruit you happen to have, raspberries, blueberries or redcurrants. Make sure nothing is bruised or damaged. Pop into jar, add some sugar to taste , top up with the alcohol and screw lid shut tight. Keep somewhere cool and dark, shake from time to time. Should be ready to drink in about a month.
Makes a lovely aperitif or digestif. Great anytime!