I love making infusions, they're a way to experiment with new flavor combinations while easily preserving something that would normally go to waste. Sometimes I just infuse with herbs and spices, but over the past few years I've used citrus zest with vodka, or the last basket of summer strawberries in a pint jar of brandy and today it was adding apricot kernels. Apricots are in abundance now and after hearing about almond extract being made with stone fruit pits I started to squirrel away my apricot, cherry, and peach pits. I have a few infusions started that I hope to enter in a competition in a month or so and saved a pint jar of brandy for the stone fruits. I cracked open 10 apricot pits and added the kernels to the pint jar of brandy, 10 cherry pits, and two peach pits. The measurements are largely based on what I had and after tasting in a few weeks I may adjust for the next batch. *I tried to crack the apricot pits with a hammer at first and then used a pair of kitchen scissors instead with a little more ease. After scouring the internet for almond extract recipes I found this informative post and recipe from the 4th edition of Picayune's Creole Cook Book (1910)
Peach Kernel RatafiaRatafia aux Noyau de Peches ou d’Abricots
¼ pound each of peach or apricot kernels
4 pints of brandy
2 ½ pounds of sugar
2 pints of water
Pound the peach or apricot kernels – some also pound peach stones – steep them for one whole month in four pints of brandy in an earthen jar, and at the end of that time add a syrup made of two and a half pounds of sugar and 2 pints of water. Mix all well together, and then filter as directed above [sic: below], and bottle and seal, and keep in a cool, shady place.
Ratafia aux Noyau is one of the standing Creole drinks, that is most agreeable, the taste being of a delicate vanilla and almonds combined. -
Further research pulled up this NY Times article on Bottling the Bounty of the Season which I love.
"A good ratafia exploits the seasons and transcends them. It captures the taste of produce when it’s in high supply so you can still enjoy it when it’s gone. Jams and jellies do the same thing, but they are cooked, which changes the character of the fruit. In a ratafia, alcohol and acidity do the work of preserving the fresh ingredients. But they won’t preserve it forever; the fruit starts to oxidize, changing in color and in flavor. Ratafias are not shelf stable, which is why they are not usually found in wine shops. The only way to get them is to go to a restaurant like T’afia or bottle your own, which is not hard at all."
*reposted from last year for those of you looking for more information via my IG post