Guess what I have in my pantry? Yep, that is some hooch in the making. To be exact, it’s 12 mason jars, filled with plum brandy, fermenting for the required 90 days. I would not have ever thought of this unless the moms who came to harvest plums with their kids hadn’t tipped me off. They made a batch together after their picking, and as soon as I saw that on Instagram, I immediately asked for the recipe.If you have thousands of plums like I did this year, you might as well make a huge batch of this. It will make fabulous holiday gifts, don’t you think? Start with clean firm plums and score them with a knife on four sides, then pack them into quart jars. You’ll need about 1 1/4 pounds of plums per jar. Add half of a cinnamon stick and a strip of lemon peel to each jar.Next, pour sugar over the plums in each jar – 3/4 cup per jar.Pour your clear spirits – my preference is grain alcohol, but you can also use vodka – over the plums.Put the lids on and shake it a bit to get all of the air out (see the air in the jar on the right?), then open them back up and fill them to the top.Wipe the lids clean of any sugar and juice, and tightly cap them. Place all of the jars on a rimmed baking sheet (or in a baking pan) and place in a cool, dark place.Turn the jars over every day or so until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 1-2 weeks/ Don’t worry about a little residual sugar and leakage – that’s why you have them on a rimmed baking sheet. And then, let them rest (upright) for 90 days. I’ll do another post when the brandy is ready and will show you some fun cocktails to make with it, but wanted to share this recipe now in case you want to get yours going for the holidays too.

Plum Brandy
Prep time
Total time
The measurements after each ingredient are for a single quart jar.
Recipe type: Beverages
Serves: For 12 quart jars
  • 15 pounds Italian prune plums, cleaned and scored on 4 sides (1¼ pounds)
  • 9 cups sugar (3/4 cup)
  • 6 cinnamon sticks, broken in half (1/2 stick)
  • 12 strips of lemon zest (from 2 lemons) (1 strip)
  • 2 "handles" (1.75 ML bottles) of Everclear (grain alcohol), or vodka (about 2 cups)
  1. Pack the plums into the clean jars and add ¾ cup sugar, ½ of a cinnamon stick, and a lemon peel to each jar. Pour the Everclear over the fruit, close, and shake to bring any air to the top. Open the jars and fill completely with Everclear. Clean rims, cap tightly, and place on a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Store in a cool, dark, place. Turn jars over each day until the sugar has completely dissolved, about 1-2 weeks, then store upright for 90 days to complete the fermentation. After 90 days, strain out solids, then strain the brandy through a coffee filter to remove any sediment. Store in pretty bottles.
This was adapted from the Washington Post:

(adapted from