Tummy Thursday: Plum Liqueur

This week’s recipe comes thanks to kestrel. Hmmm, too bad we don’t have plums this year. I’ll let kestrel take over:

This time of year I am overrun with plums and like to find ways to take advantage of the bounty. Way back in 1984 I got this recipe from a friend, and over the years I’ve tweaked it a bit to make it more to my own satisfaction. I want to let people know that one of the first things I did was to cut the amount of sugar in the original recipe in half! If having LOTS of sugar is important to you, remember that you could double my amount and still be in line with the original recipe.

Ingredients and tools needed

Very neat setup

ere I have all the things I’ll need to make plum liqueur: plums, spices, empty jars, brandy and sugar. This is the basic recipe:

1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) plums
3/4 cup (255 grams) sugar
12 cloves
Piece of cinnamon stick
750 ml plain brandy

The original recipe called for vodka, but I felt it was not as smooth as I like when finished, I think brandy gives a better taste.

cut plums

Destoning plums. Probably everybody’s least favourite part…

Start out by cutting the plums in half and removing the pits. If you are busy, what you can do instead is take a fork and pierce the skins to the pits, in five or six places on each plum. That will work just fine and is a lot faster.

plums in a mason jar

Looks good already

This is a half-gallon (1.89 liter) jar. I’ve put in plums, 3/4 cup (255 grams) of sugar, plus the spices.
the jars are filled with brandy now

No, don’t think about it

Now I’ve put the 750 ml of brandy in the jar. Put the lid on securely, and shake the jar. Shake it for a minute, wait, shake a bit more, until the sugar is more or less dissolved.
closed jars

I’m not going to wait those three months, whatever kestrel says

After 24 hours, you can already see the wonderful color developing. Leave the jar(s) on your counter, giving them a shake now and then. This is the hard part: wait three months (I know, it’s very hard to wait so long!) and then strain the contents into a jar. By then it will be a lovely deep purple color. Not only is this nice for sipping on a cold winter evening sitting by the fire, it also makes a nice base for a stir fry. It’s a wonderful gift for the holidays; use a fancy pen to write up the recipe, put the plum liqueur in a decorative bottle, and there you have a memorable and welcome gift.

I only have one question: Would it not be easier to dissolve the sugar in the brandy first so you don’t have to shake the whole jars?


  1. Some Old Programmer says

    What sugar are you using? I ask because I use a conversion of 1 cup (US) of standard granulated sugar as 200 grams.

  2. kestrel says

    @Some Old Programmer: I am using standard granulated sugar… I am sorry if the conversion is incorrect. I am using the charts that I find on the internet. If you use the US amounts, and then convert the way you normally do, it should work fine.

    As far as adding the brandy and sugar together first: the point is not just to dissolve the sugar. The point is to blend in the spices, and get the whole thing working together. Dissolving the sugar is important too, but it’s not the entire point of shaking the jars.

    As far as not waiting: it’s quite a mystery, but in that first picture, one of the bottles of brandy is at a lower level than the other! Gosh, I can’t imagine what happened there…

    By the way, my jars are now such a deep beautiful purple you can hardly see through the liquid anymore. OH BOY… it’s going to be delicious!

  3. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Ah, a question that my chemistry background can answer. Sucrose is very soluble in water, but not very soluble in ethanol. Sucrose is highly crystalline, and the crystals in commercial sugar are fairly large. The rate of dissolution of the sucrose in brandy will depend on the particle size of the sucrose, the amount of alcohol present, the temperature, and the agitation. About half the water in the container is in the plums (~85% water). The shaking helps to draw out some of that water, which helps to dissolve the sugar.
    Reducing the particle size of the sugar is probably the easiest way to speed up dissolution of the sugar in this process.
    Superfine sugar is commercially available under many names, or can be made at home. Use the same mass of superfine sugar.

  4. kestrel says

    Wow Nerd, thank you so much! That is fascinating! I did not know that, I only knew that not shaking the jars won’t work.

  5. jazzlet says

    Kestrel I hope you are going to make boozy plum conserve with the plums once you’ve strained off the liqueur! Very good over ice cream or on good bread or scones with clotted cream (or the thickest cream you have available). Oh and thank you for reminding me I need to buy some gin for my sloes. :-)

  6. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I think I should add, that confectioners sugar, while small in particle size, contains about 2% corn starch to prevent clumping. I’m not sure if the starch would totally dissolve in this system. It might leave the liquid slightly hazy instead of translucent. Wouldn’t effect the flavor though.

  7. rq says

    Now I’m left hoping that next year will bring a good harvest of plums, though there’s nothing stopping me from buying some… This should be ready about on time for christmas!

  8. says

    We have overabundance of plums this year, we are already leaving them rot. Unfortunately using this recipe is pointless since I and my father don’t drink any alcohol stronger than beer or perhaps a glass of wine once a year and my mom not even that.

    But it looks good.

  9. says

    When I was a kid my dad often got bottles of eau fe vie from local farmers. We almost always used it for fruit. Great stuff, and it burns! So when you get creme caramel with burning caramelized raspberries on top, it’s great fun for pyro kids.

  10. voyager says

    I haven’t bought plums yet this year, but I might have to now. Will this work if the plums are hard or do they need to be soft ripe?

  11. kestrel says

    @voyager, #10: you can use hard plums. Since they will be hard, just go ahead and use the fork method: pierce the skins to the pits with the fork in half a dozen places on each plum. That will be easier than cutting them up but be aware the plums will then take up more room and you need to be sure the brandy covers the plums. In my experience it usually works out just fine, but you may want to be prepared to add a little more brandy. And don’t let whatever mysterious thing happen, that happened to my bottle of brandy!

    @jazzlet, #5: I will definitely make plum conserve. Besides, if you leave them on the compost pile, the local magpies and ravens will get seriously drunk and do even sillier things than they normally do.

  12. Bruce says

    Has anyone tried experiments of doing small batches of this recipe with different amounts of sugar? Maybe it is possible with brandy to get away with using much less sugar even than this?

  13. kestrel says

    @Bruce, #13: As I said, the original recipe had TWICE this amount! I did try it in the spirit of hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, but personally I found that much sugar ghastly. But hey, if your tastes run to way less sugar, go for it! One note, sugar is a preservative. I mean, so is alcohol, but I don’t think that I personally would feel comfortable removing all the sugar. But try it! The whole point (to me) is to preserve the plums for future use (they would for sure go bad in three months, guaranteed) and at the same time creating something delightful that you enjoy.

    @Marcus, #12: It is, isn’t it? I’m quite proud of that knife. I got it from a very nice person!

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