Soon, there will be an uptick in get-togethers, weekend company and visits with those who are far away, and while I don’t want to see decorated evergreens until after Thanksgiving, I am willing to do a little work now for a head start on the holidays.

So I am sharing with you my four-ingredient plan: Make fig brandy. It is a pretty and tasty gift that also creates brandied figs – a company-worthy accompaniment for cheese or ice cream.

Most fruit-based infusions, such as Cherry Bounce, slivovitz and limoncello, need sugar or honey to effectively bring out the fruit’s flavor. Figs are sweet enough on their own to stand up to a boozy bath. Brown Turkey, Black Mission and other fig varietals are suitable for the accompanying recipe. Look for firm, fresh fruit with no signs of bruising or mold.

The brandy does not have to be expensive. Figs are heady and strong-flavored, and will mellow even the roughest plonk. Nor is a special jar required – any glass food storage container with a tight-fitting lid will work.


12 servings

9 to 12 plump, ripe fresh figs (stems trimmed)

1 lemon, seeded and thinly sliced, preferably organic

3 fresh thyme sprigs

11/2 to 2 cups brandy

Pierce each of the figs four or five times with a sharp knife. Place the figs in the jar, alternately layering in the lemon slices and thyme. Pack firmly and fill the jar, being careful not to split open any of the figs; sliced or broken fruit will make the brandy murky.

Pour the brandy over the figs to fill the jar. Seal and place the jar in a dark cupboard and make a note on the calendar: Fig Brandy Ready in 30 days.

Pour the brandy through a fine-mesh strainer into a jar or gift bottle. The brandy will keep for 1 year. Serve chilled in small glasses.

Discard the lemon slices and thyme. Store the brandied figs in a covered container in the refrigerator. The figs will keep for a month.

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