Category Archives: Drinks

This is the pits, in a good way.

I’ve been hoarding pits in my freezer. Cherry pits, peach pits, apricot pits. Little bags of treasure that look like garbage. A few weeks ago a friend mentioned that she was making noyaux ice cream and I’ve had pits on the brain ever since. Noyaux are the kernels inside the pits of stone fruits. They have an ethereal bitter almond flavor and aroma and, this is so cool, they even look like almonds. They also contain trace amounts of cyanide, so people get nervous about them, but really, who’s going to sit down and eat bowls of noyaux day after day? No one, that’s who. (There are some who believe that the kind of cyanide contained in apricot kernels is actually good for you in many ways. I don’t know enough about it to have an opinion but I’m not afraid of eating them, and definitely not afraid of flavoring something with them and straining them out.) Amaretto is flavored with apricot kernels as is most almond extract. Almond paste and marzipan often contain a small amount of apricot kernels also.

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So, what am I making with my pits you ask? Well, so far, this beautiful stuff:

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I’ve been planning to make vin de pêche for a while now. It sounds so simple, and yet, I admit that it has also sounded to me like a potential disaster and waste of wine. Basically you soak peach leaves in wine with a little sugar and vodka (or some other liquor) and, in theory, end up with a lightly fruity beverage that you serve over ice as an aperitif. When I had the epiphany that I could use noyaux to flavor the vin, I got all inspired to give it a go. A little research led me to this post from David Lebovitz. His recipe is for vin de cerise, cherry leaf wine, and it is luscious stuff.  I fiddled around with the proportions in his recipe a bit until it was to my liking and incorporated the pits I’ve been saving. Then I fiddled some more and came up with both a peach and an apricot version.IMG_0878

Vin de pêche is traditionally  made with red wine, but my version uses white to let the gorgeous pink color (my favorite color!) show.

 

Here are my three recipes for “Vin de Pits” as I’ve lovingly named it (but please don’t actually call it that, it sounds terrible).

Vin de Pêche

1 bottle of inexpensive white wine, nothing too oaky

1/2 c. sugar

3/4 c. vodka

40-50 peach leaves, rinsed and patted dry

10 peach pits, cracked, see note

Skin from 1 ripe peach, for color

Vin de Cerise

1 bottle of inexpensive red wine, something fairly light, like a Pinot Noir

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. vodka

50-60 cherry leaves, rinsed and patted dry

A handful of cherry pits, about 40, cracked, see note

Vin de Abricot

1 bottle of inexpensive white wine, nothing too oaky

1/2 c. sugar

3/4 c. brandy

70-80 apricot leaves

15 apricot pits, cracked, see note

For all versions:

Fill a clean 1 quart jar with the leaves, pits and peach skin if using. Pour in the sugar and vodka/brandy and then fill to the top with the wine. Depending on how big your leaves are, you might be left with just enough wine for a little little glass as you clean up the kitchen. Put a lid on the jar and give it a gentle shake to help dissolve the sugar.

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Let the mixture steep for two days. The cherry version seems to be fine at room temperature but I had better results with the peach and apricot versions when I let them age in the refrigerator.

Strain the mixture through cheesecloth and put it into a pretty bottle if you have one. You can also store it in the jar you made it in and then pour it into a pitcher to serve it. This should keep for a good long while if refrigerated, but it’s a summery drink so why not enjoy it over the next couple of months and just make more next year?

Serve in small glasses over ice and pretend you’re in France.

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Note: The easiest way to crack pits is to wrap them in a rag or an old dishtowel and hit them with a hammer. Make sure to do this outside though so you don’t damage you countertops or make a huge mess. Not that I know anything about that.

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