Bocal du Vieux Garçon

Old Boy’s Jar

This is a splendidly simple way of preserving some of the summer’s fruit, and I find that boys of any age enjoy it.

Method

Start with a good sized wide-necked jar or bottle. The French make many different shapes and sizes and some are on sale here. Alternatively use a large Kilner jar or even a spaghetti storage jar. Apart from the fruit, the only ingredients are plenty of eau-de-vie and sugar.

First of all fill the jar one third full with eau-de-vie, and, as necessary, add more as you go, always making sure that the fruit is covered. Every time fruit is added to the jar an equal quantity of sugar must be added, but never more than 450 g(1 lb) at a time. Make a selection from the following summer fruits.

Strawberries:

usually the first fruit of the summer suitable for the jar. Wash the fruit and dry well on kitchen paper, leave whole.

Cherries:

wash and dry the fruit, stone but leave whole for adding to the jar.

Red currants:

wash, dry and sprig – then add to the jar.

Raspberries:

as long as the fruit is dry and sound, raspberries go straight into the jar.

Apricots:

choose ripe fruit, wash and dry and halve to remove the stones. Add halved or quartered fruit.

Peaches:

remove the skin of the peaches by first covering in boiling water for a few minutes. Slice or quarter for adding to the jar.

Pears:

peel, core and slice.

Plums and greengages:

wash and dry. Then remove the stones and add the halved or quartered fruit.

Grapes:

wash and dry black or white grapes, and remove the pips before adding to the jar.

When the jar is full, seal tightly and store in a cold, dark place for at least 3 months. Serve the fruit in small dishes at the end of a meal. My French guide to this preparation says that it may ferment a little but it is of no importance.

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