Boozy Fruit: The Oldest Preserves (Brandied Plums)

You have to love seasonal eating!  It begins with the absence of a fruit or and vegetable–that you are starting (achingly) to miss. Then, a few juicy berries (or milky ears of corn) arrive and the excitement is palpable.  A few days later, a half case ripens and it’s almost like heaven.  Soon after, the full crop comes in–and OMG, what will you do with the extras!!

Dipping into brandied pluots

Dipping into brandied pluots

And that’s how I came across the idea of boozy fruit. 

It started late last summer with a good deal on a case of pluots.  Pluots are a cross between a plum and an apricot (with about 70% plum lineage) and, in a strange twist of fate, are larger and juicier than either!   When the box arrived from my buying club, we stuffed ourselves with sweet fruit–but we were never going to finish it all.brandied-plum-ingredients

I had seen a recipe for brandied plums from the New York Times and it had left me curious.  Preserving in alcohol is one of the oldest  and easiest preserving methods  with no need  for even water bath canning.  And there would be, of course, a slightly decadent fringe benefit!top-with-sugar

I pitted and sliced the pluots then soaked them in brandy mixed with sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.  The only hard part was waiting weeks until they were ready. fruit-marinating

When the marinating time was up, I made a brandied pluot upside down cake.  The fruity brandy went into sangria. I followed this with a (boozy) peaches and cream pie.  When I needed a simple dessert it was time for a brandied plum fool–fruit mixed with sweetened whipped cream.  Wouldn’t that warm you on a cool autumn  evening! 

And since the original post I’ve used these in a Plum Clafoutis or a Plum Frangipane Tart.  All yum!


This recipe is very similar to the classic Rumtopf, from northern Europe and Italy, where fruit is soaked in alcohol, then served around Christmas as a compound or topping for waffles, poundcakes, etc.

And now a case of peaches is on the way.  Hmmm, perhaps I can handle the passing of summer after all! 

A gift of brandied plums?

A gift of brandied plums?

Brandied Plums

Bumper crop of fruit? Put it up with brandy, vanilla and cinnamon to make brandied plums (or peaches or ...) for the easiest “canning” method ever.
Author: Inger
4.72 from 7 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Inactive Time 28 d
Total Time 28 d 10 mins
Course Fruit
Cuisine American
Servings 9


  • 3 lbs plums pitted and sliced into quarters or sixths
  • 2 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans halved with seeds scraped out and saved
  • 2 cinnamon sticks


  • Mix all ingredients.
  • Let marinate, covered, in a dark place for at least 4 weeks (see notes below).


Make sure the fruit doesn’t rise above the brandy; weigh it down if necessary. Since the alcohol does the preserving, any fruit that floats above the surface may rot or mold. Because alcohol is an excellent solvent as well, I wanted to use a weight that wasn’t going to break down or leach any contaminants into the preserves glass would probably be ideal. I ended up using a Tattler plastic canning lid which the manufacturer says is BPA free. After a couple weeks, the fruit had soaked up enough brandy to sit on the bottom and I took out my “weight”.
I am not a health professional and nutrition data is calculated programatically. Accuracy may vary with product selection, calculator accuracy, etc. Consult a professional for the best information.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Bumper crop of fruit? Put it up with brandy, vanilla and cinnamon to make brandied plums (or peaches or ...) for the easiest “canning” method ever.

51 thoughts on “Boozy Fruit: The Oldest Preserves (Brandied Plums)

  1. Tony Johnson

    We made plum rum with our own plum surplus. After 3 months we have just strained it back into bottle and will let it sit for a few months to mature. But what to do with the delicious plums soaked in rum? They are not at all sweet but very boozy. Can we add sugar and vanilla and more rum maybe and make these delicious dishes above?

    1. Inger Post author

      Yes, you should be able to make the recipes work–the sugar will be a bigger issue than the vanilla, which you probably don’t need to worry about. I’d slice the plums a little thinner (or chop a little smaller) than the recipe calls for, then toss with sugar before using them. And I should mention that I’ve added a few more links to other plum recipes I’ve done since this was published. Have fun!

    1. Inger Post author

      Well that’s a new one. I searched online and read (in a distillers forum where people were making flavored vodkas) that sometimes the pectin in the fruit can start to jelly the alcohol. I”m not a food scientist so can’t really comment on safety. But if I’d used strong enough alcohol and there were no signs of spoilage (after checking carefully for mold), I’d probably try it myself (then I’d move it to the refrigerator). Here is the link to the discussion I read if you are interested:

  2. Anne

    I just found your post since I made two quart-sized jars of brandied plums but neglected to keep the fruit submerged this year. One jar had funky-looking stuff on the inside of the lid so I tossed that batch. The other jar looks and smells fine though the two small plums partway above the surface look a bit brown. Do you have any idea whether it might be okay to throw out those plums but try drinking the brandy? I definitely won’t make this mistake next year!

    1. Inger Post author

      I have had plums rise up and float a little after I remove the weight. At that point, they usually have a high enough alcohol content to be okay, though I always check for mold and anything else strange. Personally I’d probably drink the alcohol, if everything else seemed fine, but I’m not a food scientist, so it’s just an opinion. For my “really bad” example, I was trying to make mint extract in vodka and the rotting mint actually turned the vodka brown. That all went out!

  3. Rhonda

    So if I soak the fruit in a large jar 4 weeks can I then move the fruit and syrup to sealed pint jars for gifts and if so do I add more brandy to top it off.

    1. Inger Post author

      I would top off with more brandy as needed since the fruit needs to stay submerged. And who wants to skimp on the brandy 🙂 ?

    1. Inger Post author

      I use a single jar. I believe the jar in the picture is slightly less than a half gallon–it was something I had leftover from a really large jar of artichokes! I think the half gallon canning jars work well too. I know I’ve even used gallon jars on occasion, perhaps for a double batch. The most important thing is that the fruit stays submerged because the alcohol is what keeps it preserved. Good luck!

  4. John

    Hi Inger
    Just trying out this for the first time and wondered about using a cork (sideways) to keep the plums submerged – the loosely screwed lid will keep everything in place. What do you think?

    1. Inger Post author

      I think I may not be picturing this correctly–but wouldn’t the plums bob up around the sides of the cork? That always added to the challenge (even more if you do something small like cherries)! Yes, this year I even considered asking a friend who has taken up pottery to make me a custom fruit weight! Good luck!

  5. Greg Howard

    My last batch was done with a mix of peeled, pitted and quartered apricots and peaches, drowned in 124 proof brandy.

    I had intended to use the fruit for dipping in chocolate, then freezing them for use as desserts … but I garnished a brandy/sangria with a chilled pair of apricot and peach quarters, and that was all she wrote. The fruity brandy outlasted the garnishes.

    I’m trying it again. I really want those chocolate-covered boozy fruit treats. It should be ready by Christmas!

  6. Bonnie T O'Hern

    So after a few weeks with loosely fit cover, if i then tighten the lid could i leave the tighten lid and give as gift in 3-4 months for the holiday?

  7. Bonnie O'Hern

    I will be the 100 person asking this question: after fruit is submerged into alcohol i use a weight to keep fruit submerged but i do not use the the lid to seal shut? I understand no water bath but i can’t close with lid for the fermenting weeks?

    1. Inger Post author

      I will generally put the lid on loosely, but I should emphasize that this doesn’t ferment. After one reader reported that theirs was fermenting (bubbling), I like to add that if it is fermenting, something is wrong. Possibly the alcohol concentration is too low. But you shouldn’t seal a fermenting food since it could explode. Again, this shouldn’t happen if done properly.

      If you DO want to ferment fruit, this is something I haven’t done, so would suggest try a google search. When I’ve done vinegar and sauerkraut I top with a cloth rubberbanded into place to let the fermentation gasses escape.

      Have fun!

    1. Inger Post author

      No the jar just needs to be protected from things dropping into it. By keeping the fruit submerged in the alcohol, you are effectively keeping the fruit air tight which is what is important. I hope you get a chance to try this!

    1. Inger Post author

      Sounds like a good problem to have Don! You can do the pears the same way, or you could switch things up a little–perhaps ginger instead of the cinnamon and rum instead of the brandy. Any 80 proof/40% alcohol should work. Have fun and let me know how it goes if you get a chance!

  8. Sara

    Hi a friend just forwarded this link to me. I definitely will try this in the fall when our trees ripen. Question, how do you store after the marinating time is up? Do you separate the liquid and fruit or do you store together? What kind of container, and there is no need to vacuum seal?
    Thanks, we are new at canning/preserving.

    1. Inger Post author

      Hi Sara–
      I just keep the fruit in the alcohol until I use it. That keeps it preserved! This does not need to be vacuum sealed because the alcohol keeps it good–that’s why this is the easiest method!! As I mentioned, just be sure that the fruit is below the top of the alcohol since if it touches the air it will spoil. Have fun!

    1. Inger Post author

      I would look around the kitchen for something glass or ceramic that might fit. Perhaps a small plate–or maybe even a smaller glass jar. If you come up with some good inspiration, comment back if you get a chance. Good luck!

  9. Rachel T

    I have several pounds of plums in my freezer right now, can I make this recipe with them? Or will they fall apart do you think?

    1. Inger Post author

      You know I’m not sure if they will hold together after they’ve been frozen Rachel. If you’d like the boozy flavor in a recipe, I’d probably soak them overnight and then use them. Of course next year you can forget the freezer and preserve them the easy way (or both) if your chose!

  10. Jenna

    How much does this recipe make? I’m guessing one pint jar. Please excuse me if I missed this somewhere in the text.

    1. Inger Post author

      I think the jug I used to make this in was about a half gallon. I just tried a quart with some cherries and couldn’t fit everything in. I’ve also used a gallon and just not had it as full (or when I’ve done a bigger batch). The important thing is to make sure the fruit stays submerged. Have fun and let me know if you have any other questions.

  11. NoName

    Will the fruit bubble? One of my jars appears to be fermenting with the sugar and alcohol. Is that common?

    1. Inger Post author

      I don’t think it should ferment and bubble if the alcohol is strong enough–at least 40% alcohol, aka 80 proof, which brandy typically is. I have some cherries going now for about 3 weeks, just checked them and no bubbles. What type of alcohol did you use? I know that people DO attempt to ferment fruit but guessing that wasn’t your intent. If it is fermenting, be sure not to seal it, because gasses can build up and cause a sealed jar to explode. If there isn’t any mold, rot or off flavors, you might try adding additional brandy–or you could read up on fermenting fruit and perhaps convert to a hybrid product.

    1. Inger Post author

      I just kept them in a cool room, in a dark cabinet Abby. The only time I had a spoilage problem was if some of the fruit rose above the alcohol, so be sure it is submerged. Enjoy!

  12. Patricia walmsley

    Hi, just found your website, fabulous, but can you tell me what the measurement c is that you use for sugar and brandy. Thanks

    1. Inger Post author

      I just edited the recipe to spell out “cup”–I really do like it spelled out better too. If you would like conversion to metric, I would say that the 1 cup of sugar would be 225 grams, and the 2 1/2 cups of brandy would be about 575 ml. Does that help?

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  14. Collette Payne

    Do I use the vanilla beans after scraped out seeds you said to save or do I use the seeds and throw away the pod?

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      1. Inger Post author

        I usually try to use it up within a year. At that point I still haven’t seen any mold growth or signs of spoilage but the quality is starting to change. And once I’ve used it up, I can take advantage of the new year’s harvest!

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