With the holidays approaching and the cool weather already here, I begin to prepare for the holidays and I look for natural projects to do inside the house! Last weekend I made infused brandy with apples to resemble Calvados.
Calvados is an apple brandy from the French region of Lower Normandy (Basse-Normandie). It is distilled from cider made from specially grown and selected apples, of which there are over 200 named varieties. It is not uncommon for a Calvados producer to use over 100 specific varieties of apples, which are either sweet (such as the Rouge Duret variety), tart (such as the Rambault variety), or bitter (such as the Mettais, Saint Martin, Frequin, and Binet Rouge varieties) to achieve the perfect blend.
The fruit is harvested (either by hand or mechanically) and pressed into a juice that is fermented into a dry cider. It is then distilled into eau de vie. After two years aging in oak casks, it can be sold as Calvados. The longer it is aged, the smoother the drink becomes. Usually the maturation goes on for several years.
It is a delicious brandy to sip or to use in recipes (which is what I normally do). It is marvelous as a deglazer for pork dishes such as pork roast to make a pan sauce or gravy with either pork or with poultry.
Unfortunately, quality Calvados is quite expensive upwards to 40 and 50 dollars a bottle. I wanted to share the experience of Calvados with my friends for holiday presents as part of the French themed gift baskets I am giving this year, but that would bust the budget so I thought a little further, researched a bit and came up with a recipe for an apple infused brandy that will provide the experience for flavoring dishes without breaking the budget.
The process couldn’t be simpler. My annual trip to the apple orchard was made sweeter by Will coming with me. The experience is always better when it is shared, we had a great time picking apples and pumpkins. We picked a total of 60 pounds of apples (nearly a full bushel). Some of these will go into cold storage to munch on throughout the winter. Some will be made into either canned apple filling or other apple products for the pantry and for gifts. However, I had a few pounds reserved to make infused brandy.
Simply chop the apples into cubes and have a large container with a lid handy. Fortunately I have this marvelous 3 gallon container with a spigot that I use to create specialty drinks for parties. I filled the container about ¾ full of apple cubes, then purchased a mid range brandy and emptied two (1.7 liter) containers in to fill the negative space. This mixture is agitated daily by a quick swirl of the container. After two weeks, the brandy will be decanted into individual small bottles, corked and wax sealed and put into the dark pantry to mature for a few weeks until the holiday baking is complete and the baskets are assembled.
I hope everyone enjoys the infused brandy in recipes throughout the year!