Tonight I tried to make boerenjongens ("farm boys"), a Dutch sweet or dessert topping consisting of raisins, sugar, and brandy. I looked online for recipes and found them from as complicated as one that involved zesting a lemon -- a thing I have never done -- to one that is basically equal parts sugar, raisins, and brandy.
I tried a combination of recipes. I measured how many cups of raisins I had, then measured that much water and that much sugar into a pan. I threw in some cinnamon and a little ground cloves. I heated and stirred till the sugar dissolved and the water started to boil. Then I put the raisins in. I had bought one box of regular (dark) raisins and one of "golden" raisins. I stirred and simmered the raisins in the sugar water for 20-25 minutes, then I spooned a few raisins at a time into a small strainer and from there into the canning jars (which I had prepared by washing and then keeping in a warm oven). The 12 small glass canning jars I had bought turned out to be the perfect size, the raisins just filled them. Then I boiled and stirred the remaining sugar water for a while to "reduce" it. I poured some into a measuring pitcher then poured in an equal amount of brandy, then poured the sugar water/brandy mixture into each jar of raisins until they were full. Then I put the lids on.
Things got a little sticky -- literally. If I happened to dribble some of that sugar water onto the stove, it was sticky to clean up, the spoons I used got sticky, and I'm fearful that when I go to take the lid off one of these jars it will be glued there by sticky syrup.
I also felt that maybe instead of mixing the sugar water with the brandy to pour into the jars, I should have just poured brandy in, to make them stronger. And I worried that the sugar water was still hot enough to evaporate the alcohol in the brandy so that the final product will not be an alcoholic treat. But, there they are. You're supposed to wait a certain amount of time to open and eat them. That time varied, too, in the recipes, from serving it the next day to waiting a minimum of three months. I plan to try one jar out around Christmas or New Year's.
I already think next year, less syrup, more brandy. But anyway, I'm sure the sugar will help them taste good.
I am a little fearful if they'll be okay. In the old days, canning gone wrong resulted in botulism. But part of me also says, How wrong can it go? It's raisins, sugar, and brandy.
So I decided not to give any jars away until I consume one and survive.