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Brandied Fruit Melange
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Brandy base 2 cups (1/2 liter) brandy 1 1/2 quarts (1 1/2 liters) firm, ripe strawberries, hulled 6 cups (1 1/2 liters) sugar 2 cups (1/2 liter) kirsch 2 cups (1/2 liter) sherry 2 cinnamon sticks 1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped fresh ginger 1 tablespoon (15 ml) whole cloves 1 tablespoon (15 ml) whole allspice 1 tablespoon (15 ml) grated lemon peel 1 tablespoon (15 ml) grated orange peel For the brandy base, crush the strawberries and simmer them in their own juice until they are tender, about five minutes. Let the berries drip in a jelly bag; discard the pulp. Bring the strawberry juice to a boil, add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Cool the syrup. Put the brandy, kirsch, sherry, spices and grated lemon and orange peels into a 4 gallon (16 liter) crock. Add the strawberry syrup to the other ingredients in the crock. Let the mixture stand for at least one week. As fruits are available, add equal quantities of fresh fruits and sugar, stirring after each addition. Never add more than 2 quarts (2 liters) of sugared fruit at one time. Two or three kinds of fruit may be added at the same time. For each 2 quarts of sugared fruit, add 2 cups (1/2 liter) of brandy. More spices also may be added. Continue this process until the crock is filled. Put the cover on the crock and tie a cloth over it. Let it stand without disturbing it for two or three months.
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