Image (modified): Dennis Hill
August is stone-fruit season, and no pitted fruit tastes more like summer than a fragrant, ripe peach.
Whether biting into one until the juice runs down your chin, or enjoying the flavor in cobblers and pies, peaches reach their peak flavor during a brief harvest window, filling stores and farmers markets with a bounty that all too soon gives way to other, more durable fruits.
Learning how to make peach schnapps from scratch is a rock-solid way to capture in a bottle that mouth-watering flavor of summer.
Schnapps are basically a clear alcohol like vodka or grain alcohol infused with fruit flavors.
They come in two general types: European schnapps, higher in alcohol content and more like flavored eau-de-vie; and American schnapps, fortified with sugar and better classified as liqueurs.
You could spend months macerating cut peaches in white alcohol to create a true, strong European schnapps. Fortunately, there are plenty of recipes that will produce fresh, flavorful, homemade American schnapps in just a fraction of that time.
Home brewers have a variety of recipes on how to make peach schnapps from scratch, but they all involve the same basic methods and ingredients.
You don't need any equipment more exotic than mason jars (or any larger jars with lids that can be tightened), a colander or coffee filters, and a wooden spoon.
The general recipe involves soaking cut peaches in a clear alcohol for enough time to infuse the liquid with the flavor of the fruit, then straining, fortifying, diluting or sweetening, and serving.
This video will show you how, step by step.
Enjoy this easy recipe on how to make peach schnapps in a week:
This recipe can be scaled up if you're aiming to serve a crowd, so long as the relative proportions remain the same.
1. Wash, peel, and chop peaches into bite-sized chunks. Peeling is optional, but it increases the surface area of the pulp in contact with the alcohol, so if you're willing to take a little more time to soak the fruit, feel free to keep the peel on.
2. Put the cut fruit into a jar along with the lemon juice or zest and add the alcohol to cover. Close tightly. Shake well to make sure the liquid permeates the packed fruit.
3. Store the jar at room temperature out of direct sunlight for two days and then sample the liquid for flavor. Fresh, overripe peaches infuse the strongest flavor, but less ripe fruit may take more time to give up the goods. If the flavor is weak, close the jar, shake it, and store for a couple more days.
4. When the alcohol is infused to your taste, strain out the peaches and pulp by pouring the liquid into another clean jar through a wire mesh, coffee filter, or multiple layers of cheesecloth. During the multi-day maceration process, much of the alcohol will have been absorbed by the fruit, so use the back side of a wooden spoon to gently press the fruit into giving up its liquor.
5. Meanwhile, combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and heat up until the sugar is dissolved. Let this syrup cool and then add it to the peach-infused liquor. If you prefer a sweeter brew, increase the amount of water and sugar to 3/4 cups each. If you prefer a stronger schnapps, decrease to 1/4 cups each. Whatever amount you add, just be sure to keep the sugar:water ration to 1:1.
6. After adding the syrup, shake the mixture and let it sit for a day before serving. Voila! Homemade peach schnapps.
If you would prefer to savor the sweet, bright taste of summer during the winter months, consider concocting a stronger, European-style schnapps. The process is similar to the recipe above. You'll need:
1. Peel and cut ripe peaches to loosely fill a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover them with a clear alcohol. You may want to add a dose of a fruit preservation powder to keep any exposed peaches from browning. Some home brewers recommend including the pits in the mix, to give a slight nutty flavor.
2. Allow the peaches to macerate in a cool, dark place for up to two months, shaking and tasting periodically. When the flavor is to your taste, filter the infusion into a new, clean jar.
3. Age the schnapps for a few weeks and then decant and serve in front of a roaring fire.
So, what drinks can you make with peach schnapps?
Drink it as a cordial, splash it into a frosty glass of ice tea, or pour it over vanilla ice cream. Better yet, try it with one of these delicious cocktails:
Classic Fuzzy Navel
Get your daily vitamin C dose with a classic fuzzy navel. Splash equal parts orange juice and peach schnapps into a generous glass.
Southern Peachy Soda
Want to put a kick in your afternoon soda? Fortify a clear citrus cola with a shot of your infused liquor.
A Week at the Beach
Add a shot of each ingredient to a pitcher, stir it up, and serve two very happy people.
Sex on the Beach
-3/4 oz. peach schnapps
-3/4 oz. vodka
Pour the alcohol over ice and add orange juice and cranberry juice to taste. Take a sip and say "Ahhhhh."
Mix a shot each of rum and schnapps, add 2 shots of orange juice, and add a splash of grenadine so it looks like a tropical sunset.
-1.5 oz peach schnapps
-2 oz. pineapple juice
-1.5 oz. passion fruit juice
-4 oz. vanilla ice cream
Indulge your sweet tooth by mixing all ingredients in a blender to make the perfect peachy-tropical milk shake.
If none of these options pique your interest, check out these 500+ peach schnapps recipes. But before you do, make sure you've got a big batch of schnapps soaking.
Once you've learned how to make peach schnapps from scratch, the taste of those sweet summer days will last long after the autumnal equinox.
Before discovering the meaning of life, Rory Constantine spent his days tinkering with airplane engines in a Raytheon hangar. But on a junket overseas, a fellow grease monkey talked him into visiting a British distillery that offered tastings. Now Rory chases the scent, potency, and promise of spirits up mountains, through jungles, and over wide deserts in search of the next transformative mouthful.