Can You Preserve Fruit With Alcohol?


If you are looking to preserve a huge batch of summer berries, consider preserving some with spirits. It’s a great way to spice up baking and otherwise bland meals, and it’s a method of preserving fruit for the off-season without the need for refrigeration. Long-term fruit preservation in spirits is another feather in your survival cap.

Be warned when you preserve fruit this way. There will be alcohol in your fruit. It has the same effect as drinking the spirits. To remove alcohol, cook the fruit when you are ready to use it.

Preserve fruit indefinitely with alcohol that is 54% alcohol by volume or higher. Taste, color, and texture may deteriorate over time.  

Some recipes call for fruits and sugar to be cooked, and some are just fruit in an alcohol bath. You can mix different types of fruit or use just one type. If the alcohol by volume is high enough it is an antimicrobial preservative, actively killing bacteria, yeast, and fungus.

For the full preservative effect of alcohol, use at least 108 proof or 54% ABV spirits. If this process is used, refrigeration is not necessary, and preservation is indefinite.

Fruit Preservation and Infusion By Spirit

You can preserve fruit in alcohol or you can use the fruit to give spirits color and flavor.

Some recipes use fruit to infuse spirits that are much lower in alcohol than the suggested 54% ABV. These recipes should be refrigerated following the recipe directions you use.

Tinctures: A concentrated mixture of liquid Herbs or spices steeped in alcohol. Some are said to have medicinal qualities. Certain recipes use less alcohol with less than 54% ABV so they may need to be refrigerated.

Infusions: Not used for preservation. Fruit is used to infuse spirits with the flavor of the fruit, herbs, or spices. Fruit is usually thrown out or used in a cocktail. If the alcohol used for infusion is less than 54%, it should be refrigerated.

Maceration: steeping or marinating fruit, sugar, and liquor. The end product is often used for baked goods, confectionery delicacies, and a topping for ice cream and puddings.

How To Preserve Fruit In Alcohol

This is so simple it’s ridiculous. Clean and cut up quality fruit that is firm and blemish-free, place it in a container (doesn’t have to be airtight), cover in 54% ABV,108 proof or higher alcohol, and add sugar for flavor.

  1. Use fresh fruit that is free of blemishes and that has firm skin
  2. Destone fruit and cut into equal-sized pieces
  3. Place fruit in a clean jar with a lid
  4. Cover fruit mixture with spirits 1″ above the fruit
    1. For long-term preservation, spirits should be 54% alcohol by volume (ABC), 108 proof or higher
  5. Add sugar for flavoring if you desire
    1. Sugar is a preservative, but for longer-term preservation, high ABC spirits are sufficient

13 Fruits Excellent For Alchol Preservation

You can preserve just about any fresh fruit with strong spirits: peaches, cherries, plums, apricots, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, pineapple, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, and pomegranate to name a few. If you don’t have fresh fruit you can use frozen fruit.

Fruits To Avoid Preserving

Citrus imparts a bitter flavor if you leave the peel and rind on so remove it or use the rind sparingly like a spice. Melons increase water content in the mixture, reducing alcohol’s ability to preserve the fruit, and bananas turn to mush.

What Kind of Alcohol Can I Use To Preserve Fruit?

Any high-proof alcohol will work as long as it is at least 54% alcohol by volume (ABV). You can use white or dark rum as with german rumptopf or start with neutral spirits like vodka, white rum, or ginn. The neutral spirits will show more of the fruit taste than the darker spirits.

As long as the alcohol volume is high enough (54% by volume), you can use any spirit to preserve fruit, cognac, whiskey, sake (rice wine), or soju. You can use 40% ABV alcohol to keep fruit but don’t forget that the fruits have a lot of moisture, diluting the alcohol percentage and reducing its preservation power.

For actual preservation and not just to make a short-term concoction for drink mixes or baked goods, I’d go with the 54% ABV.

Sugar Or No Sugar: Preserving Fruit With Spirits

You don’t have to add sugar when using alcohol to preserve fruit, but it tastes better if you do. Sugar cuts the flavor of alcohol and enhances the fruit flavor. Sugar also acts as a preservative and draws out the fruit’s moisture, maintaining a better consistency.

Sugar and alcohol are both preservatives, but the sugar is more for flavor and maintaining the fruit’s texture. If your alcohol volume is adequate (54% by volume or 108 proof), you can skip the sugar, but most fruits will taste better if you use some sugar.

Does Fruit Preserved In Alcohol Go Bad?

Fruit preserved in alcohol doesn’t go bad. Fruit will last indefinitely if the spirit remains above the fruit and it is high enough alcohol content, namely 54% or higher. Fruit is usually used within a year because overtime, alcohol deteriorates the color and texture of the fruit.

Refrigeration is not necessary; store covered in an opaque crock in a cool dark location.

Can Fruit Preserved In Alcohol Go Bad?

Fruit will not mold in high ABV alcohol. The only issue you might have is if you aren’t keeping the fruit submerged in the alcohol. To ensure the fruit is submerged, use crock weights or a small plate to keep the fruit covered.

If a moldy piece is sticking out just throw it in the bin the rest of your fruit should still be good.

How Long Will Fruit Preserved With Alcohol Last?

Fruit preserved with high-proof alcohol, 54% ABV or higher, will last 3+ years to indefinitely. An airtight seal and refrigeration are not necessary. Make sure to cover fruit in spirits and consume within one year for peak quality.

7 Ways To Use Alcohol Preserved Fruit

  1. Baked Goods
  2. Waffles
  3. Ice Cream Topping
  4. Compote
  5. Toast Spread
  6. Meat Dressing
  7. If you don’t want alcohol in the fruit when you use it cook it out

7 Tips For Preserving Fruit With Alcohol

  1. Keep the fruit covered in spirits. If you have floating fruit, use a plate to weigh the fruit down.
  2. Your jars or crock don’t have to be airtight. It’s the alcohol that preserves the fruit.
  3. To cut the flavor of alcohol, add more sugar.
  4. Avoid using clear jars or cover them with paper.
  5. Use spirits that are 54% alcohol by volume or 108 proof. This seems high, and I’ve seen it suggested that alcohols as low as 40% can be used for preservation, but I’d er on the side of caution. Don’t forget that all of that fresh fruit will release water into the alcohol solution diminishing its preservation powers.
  6. Use only fresh, clean, undamaged fruit.
  7. Sterilize Your Jars before preserving by boiling in water for 15 minutes. Leave the jars in the water until you’re filling them with the fruity concoction.

How Will I know If Alcohol Fruit Is Bad?

As long as you used strong enough alcohol (54% ABV) and the fruit is kept submerged, you should not have a problem. If you are still worried about the fruit, here are some signs it’s gone bad.

  • Foul or off odor
  • Moldy fruit
  • When In doubt throw it out

German Rum Pot: Fruit Preserved In Rum And Sugar

Rumptopf or Rum Pot is without a doubt the most famous method of preserving fruit with spirits. It has been made for centuries in Germany and Holland. It is a mixture of sugar and spirits used to preserve summer fruit harvests for the holidays.

Rumptopf originated when Naval ships used potent rum to preserve fresh fruit for long voyages.

Rum Pot is Typically made with rum and a lot of sugar. Stored in an opaque crockpot with a lid. New layers of fresh fruit and sugar are added at different times as they are harvested. Today you can purchase all the fruit at once or use frozen fruit if you want.

Rumptopf Container These can get pretty fancy; stoneware crockpots with special rumptopf designs were often used. The containers are not airtight and were normally stored at room temperature in a cool dark location. You can use clear ball jars to make this, but you should wrap the jars in freezer paper to keep light out.

Sonderjysk Romkrukke Norwegian version of Rumptopf

Romkrukke Danish version of Rumptopf

Quick Rum Pot Recipe

You may want to skip the 6-month fiasco of adding layers of fruit, sugar, and rum into a jar. Try this one-and-done Rumptopf recipe using fruits in season at the grocery store, farmers market, or a roadside stand to get edible fruit within 8 weeks.

Ingredient List:

Fresh Fruit: You can use just about any fruit but avoid bananas, melons and citrus with the peel

Fruit In PoundsSugar In PoundsRum In Cups (54%/108 proof)
11/21.5
213
31.54.5
426
52.57.5
Measurements are approximate. 1lb of fruit to 1/2lb of sugar to 1.5 cups of rum

Directions

  1. Pick a lidded container like a 1-gallon ball jar or a lidded crock.
    1. Sterilize your jar and lid before starting.
  2. Prepare 2 parts of the firm, unblemished fruit.
    1. Wash, destone, and cut into equal-sized pieces.
  3. Add 1 Part Sugar
    1. Sugar isn’t being used for preservation.
    2. If alcohol ABV is high enough, you can use less sugar to reduce sweetness, but the less sugar you use, the more you will taste the alcohol.
  4. Cover the concoction in 1″ of Rum.
    1. Use 54% alcohol by volume, 108 proof, or higher.
    2. You can use any spirit that has enough ABV.
    3. If the fruit bobs to the top, use a plate or a pickling weight to keep it down
  5. Let sit for 8 weeks or longer.

Rumptopf Tips:

  • Treat Your Rumptopf like your baby, check it periodically and keep it topped off with rum. Avoid at all costs letting the fruit sit in the air.
  • Keep Your container in a cool, dry location.
  • If you are using a clear glass container, wrap the container to keep sunlight out

Warning: High alcohol spirits are flammable so use caution

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