tutti_iconIn Italian Tutti Frutti means "all the fruits". It's a popular, colorful treat made with a variety of candied fruits. It can be an ice cream flavored with many fruits includeing cherries, raisins, pineapple and some nuts thrown in for good measure. The Dutch use the name to describe a compote made by boiling a bunch of dried fruit. In Belgium, Tutti Frutti is a dessert made from raisins, currants, apricots, prunes, dates, and figs. I guess in England they took the idea, made it inedible and called it Fruit Cake. In Poland, today, it is perhaps one of the most popular homemade Nalewkas. It's roots are ancient and it's fun to make so here we go...

Of course since everybody makes their own there are thousands of recipes. Some are very simple and quick. Take a bunch of dried fruit, macerate in vodka for a few weeks, strain, drink. Some very elaborate and involving years of maturing in oak barrels. It's hard to choose so I will experiment by picking elements I think will work best.

I've never tried this one so I will start of with some basic rules.

  • It will be a 1 year process.
  • I will use 1 pound of fruit for every 1 liter of vodka.
  • Only fruit from my yard or from the Farmer's Market will be allowed in the mix.
  • Each batch will macerate for 2 weeks and the old fruit will be strained out.
  • At the end of the process, if needed, I will adjust the taste with spices, herbs and/or honey.

I should be fine with this simple set of rules so let's get started.

As long as I'm in the process of making the Nalewka the posts will be in reverse order - the last fruit added will be first. Once I'm done I will reverse the order for easier reference.

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1st-fruit

#1 Strawberry

It's strawberry season at the Farmer's Market so the strawberries are the the first to go in the vodka. Use only fresh, very ripe but in no way turned or moldy fruit. I always use smaller varieties because they seem to have more flavor and color. I cut the strawberries so that the vodka can have a larger surface area to work on. That's it - put 1 pound of strawberries and 1 liter of vodka in a big jar. Place in a sunny location and give it a shake every now and than.

First to start the 2010 Tutti Frutti are strawbwrries. Strawberries ready to be strained and Pixies ready to soak. Pixie Tangerines and 0.5 liters of vodka added.
First to start the 2010 Tutti Frutti are strawbwrries. Strawberries ready to be strained and Pixies ready to soak. Pixie Tangerines and 0.5 liters of vodka added.

#2 Ojai Pixie Tangerine

OK so it's been 2 weeks, more or less, and I'm ready for my next fruit. Right off the bat I am going to break 2 of my own rules. Ah, so what, rules are made to be broken. The Ojai Pixies, similar to the Cutie Tangerines, are not from the farmer's market and I am going to use only half a liter of vodka to top this one off. Thinking this through I realized that if I used 1 liter for each fruit it would be a whole lot more Tutti Frutti than I need. With less vodka the flavor will also be more intense.

Using a potato peeler I peeled the very top layer of the Pixie rind trying to get as little of the white pith as possible, Than I peeled each tangerine and separated the wedges. Again the goal was to remove all the white stuff. The pith has a bitter taste that I am trying to avoid. I prepare one pound of peel and wedges which in my case took 5 tangerines.

Time to strain out the strawberries which are kind of creepy, ghostly having lost most of their color. I give them a little squeeze, pour the strained infusion back into the jar, put in the Pixie peel and the wedges. I cut each wedge in half to give the vodka better penetration, cover the jar tight and shake. As an after thought I mixed the leftover strawberries with about 3 tablespoons of sugar. After about 2 hours they delivered about half a cup more of their delicious juices. I added that to my mix and out into its designated sunny location it went. It will tan for about 2 weeks with an occasional stir and shake.

Ghostly strawberries let more juice out with a little sugar. The 2 fruit (so far) Tutti Frutti out in the sun. 2 handfuls of rose petals.
Ghostly strawberries let more juice out with a little sugar. The 2 fruit (so far) Tutti Frutti out in the sun. 2 handfuls of rose petals.

#3 Rose Petals

Yes, you heard right - rose petals. It's a very popular flavor in East European and Middle Eastern cooking, especially for desserts and liqueurs. Rose petal jam or preserves is one of my personal favorites. At this time of the year my roses, I have over 30 bushes growing in my front yard, are full of flowers. Traditionally wild rose petals were used but I have a few very fragrant varieties. For this Tutti Frutti stage I picked two handfuls of the petals. One from my hybrid tea - Eiffel Tower and one from a Floribunda climber - Joseph's Coat. I shook out all the dust and bugs and let them just sit around for about an hour. You can rinse them off but I think there is no need to. After all you are soaking them in vodka so just give the bugs a chance to escape. As before with the other fruit, I strained out the tangerines, gave them a little squeeze to get more juice and poured the infusion liquid back into the jar and over the rose petals. I mixed the left over vodka soaked fruit with 2 tablespoons of sugar and set them aside to extract even more fruity flavors out of them. After about 2 hours I had another ¼ cup of rich tangerine flavored juice. It went back into the mix. Last time due to old man vision and young man inattentiveness I used only a ¼ liter of vodka instead of the ½ liter I stated. This time I did use ½ a liter, and I needed to because I wanted to cover the petals. There it is - stage 3 is sunning and getting it's daily shake. I can't wait to find out what fruit is going to catch my attention in about 2 weeks time and go into the 2010 Tutti Frutti.

Rose petals infusing and tangerines getting the sugar treatment. Soaking up the rays and working that Nalewka magic. The rose called Jacob's Coat contributed a handful of petals.
Rose petals infusing and tangerines getting the sugar treatment. Soaking up the rays and working that Nalewka magic. The rose called Jacob's Coat contributed a handful of petals.

#4 Blackberries

My new, I just planted it last year, blackberry bush is now producing a nice crop of berries. Again breaking with the aforementioned rules I will harvest the ripest berries each morning and drop them in to the vodka infusion until the harvest is done. I'm not adding any more vodka for now because I'm not sure how much berries I'm going to get. If they start peeking out over the vodka, I doubt it, I will ad more booze. Have to keep my eyes on the cherry and apricot harvest - I don't want to miss out on those.

So after 2 weeks my blackberry bush was still producing a small handfull of ripe berries every morning. In fact it's still going strong 4 weeks later. I had to cut it off just when the berries started to almost peek over the vodka. I strained out the berries, covered them with 2 tablespoons of sugar and set them out in a sunny location for about 24hours to get the rest of the juice out. The next day I had me a little over half a cup of sweet juice to add to the Futti Frutti Nalewka.

blackberry-1 Blackberries in vodka sunning. Strained out blackberries mixed with sugar out in the sun.
I will harvest the ripest berries each morning and drop them in to the vodka infusion. Blackberries in vodka sunning. Strained out blackberries mixed with sugar out in the sun.

#5 Blueberries, Apricots, Rainier Cherries and Sour Cherries, Oh my!

The Framer's market was overflowing with all kinds of short season fruit. I just couldn't help myself. Instead of chancing missing out on all this wonderful supper ripe fruit I decided to just do a mash-up. In a few weeks peach season will be upon us anyway and I will need to do at least 2 varieties of these. So once again bending all the rules I set up in the beginning I added: 1 pound of apricots, 1 pound of blueberries, a little under 2 pounds (I ate the rest) of pitted Rainier and sour cherries. That's almost 4 pounds of fruit. I also put in about 20 cherry pits, as is the custom when using cherries in a Nalewka, into the mix. With this much fruit I had to ad another liter of vodka just to make sure everything was covered. As usual the whole mix went out on a sunny location to do it's nalewka magic.

After 2 weeks of sunning and the occasional stir I strained out the fruit and as is now my custom I mixed it with sugar (4 tablespoons this time), covered it with some plastic and put it out in the sun for 24 hours to let the sugar pull out the rest of the juices.

After 24 hours I got an extra half cup of juice out of those berries. There was an abundance of short season fruit at the farmer's market. After 2 weeks the fruit was stained out and mixed with sugar.
After 24 hours I got an extra half cup of juice out of those berries. There was an abundance of short season fruit at the farmer's market. After 2 weeks the fruit was stained out and mixed with sugar.

#6 Peaches

I got an extra ½ cup of super flavorful juice from my sugar based extraction process. Now it’s time for peaches. By the middle of July the farmer’s market here in SoCal is inundated with all kinds of locally grown peaches and nectarines. I love going round the stalls and trying all the samples they have laid out. This week the sweetest were the Saturn or doughnut peaches. These cool looking peaches were first introduced to the States from China back in the late 1800s. They got very popular lately and rightfully so.

Adding them to the Nalewka is as simple as it gets. I took about a pound of very ripe peaches, quartered them, removed the pits and plunked them into the Tutti Frutti Nalewka. I also added 2 of the pits.

Stir and leave in a sunny spot for about 2 weeks.

½ cup of super flavorful juice from my sugar based extraction process This week the sweetest were the Saturn or doughnut peaches. Very ripe peaches, quartered, pits removed.
½ cup of super flavorful juice from my sugar based extraction process This week the sweetest were the Saturn or doughnut peaches. Very ripe peaches, quartered, pits removed.

#7 Time for the Melons — First It's Cantaloupe

The peaches stayed in the jar for just under 2 weeks before I strained them off. I’m not going to do the extra juice extraction with sugar this time. I’m worried that the Nalewka will get too sweat since fruit season is just getting into high gear.

It’s hard to keep up with all the fresh, local fruit that is coming into season in SoCal. The farmer’s market is full of peaches, nectarines, plums and now melons. I decide to go for the cantaloupe this time.

I chose a small very ripe one. I chopped it up, peeled it, removed the seeds and cut it up into chunks. Into the Nalewka it goes. The jar is sealed tight and placed back in it’s designated sunny perch for another 2 weeks. At this point I also added another half liter of vodka to replenish the liquid since I have been tasting the stuff — you know, to make sure everything was going as planed.

I decide to go for the cantaloupe. I decide to go for the cantaloupe. I decide to go for the cantaloupe.
I decide to go for the cantaloupe. I chopped it up, peeled it, removed the seeds and cut it up into chunks. Back in it’s designated sunny perch for another 2 weeks.

#8 Never Mind the Melons — It's Time to Finish it All Off With Some Muscat Grapes

Turns out that melons are a very powerful infusion flavor. I was afraid that if I added any more I would end up with basically a melon flavored Nalewka as all the subtleties of rose petals and apricots would get drowned out. The muscat vine I have on the side of the house produced an extraordinary harvest so I decided to end this Tutti Frutti Nalewka with some grapes. I took one large bunch of sweet ripe and plump grapes, washed them off and destemmed them. I contemplated crushing the grapes but that would be very messy so I just plopped them in whole.

I decided to finish off this Tutti Frutti Nalewka with some muscat grapes. I contemplated crushing the grapes but that would be very messy so I just plopped them in whole. The final verdict on all this work will be around Thanksgiving after the Tutti Frutti has a little time to mature.
I decided to finish off this Tutti Frutti Nalewka with some muscat grapes. I contemplated crushing the grapes but that would be very messy so I just plopped them in whole. The final verdict on all this work will be around Thanksgiving after the Tutti Frutti has a little time to mature.

After two weeks in a sunny location I was ready to filter and bottle. My 3 rags and a coffee filter filtering technique did a fine job and I ended up with a liter of fine Tutti Frutti Nalewka for my 4 months of effort. It's very tasty already but the final verdict on all this work will be around Thanksgiving after it has a little time to mature. I'm also thinking of starting an Autum Tutti Frutti Nalewka based on ripe apples and pears but maybe that will have to wait till next year.

After filtering with the 3 rags and a coffee filter technique it's time to rest and mature.

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