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Peach Gazoz

Sparkling, fermented, nonalcoholic and utterly refreshing
Peach Gazoz recipe - sparkling, fermented, nonalcoholic drink
Excerpted from "Gazoz" by Benny Briga and Adeena Sussman (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2021. Photographs by Dan Perez.

Gazoz refers to a mixture of seltzer, fruit and sweet syrup, variations of which can be found in Israel and Turkey. But at Tel Aviv's Cafe Levinsky, Benny Briga has taken turned gazoz into an art form with carefully fermented syrups, fresh herbs and spices, and gorgeous results. This recipe, from the "Gazoz" cookbook, has a few steps and takes a bit of time to prepare, but the end result is well worth it. Allow a week for the fermented spices and a few days for the fermented fruit in syrup. But once you've made those, they can be stored so you'll always have a gazoz at your fingertips.

"The fruit is the star of the show and should be treated as such, especially because once you’re done drinking your gazoz, you will most likely lift the juicy slices of fruit out of the glass and eat them... Adding the flavor of spices and chiles to beverages opens up new worlds of flavor... Spices and chiles contain essential oils that dissipate over time, so the fresher the spices, the fresher the oils. When combined with simple syrup, their flavors meld to create the optimal finished product." — Excerpted from "Gazoz" by Benny Briga and Adeena Sussman (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2021. Photographs by Dan Perez.

Ready in
1 h
1 h
(prepare time)
1
Servings

Notes

For the fermented fruits in syrup: Start the fermentation process with clean, unblemished fruit of the highest quality, preferably organic, seasonal, and local. To make 1¾ pounds (800 grams) whole fruit, you’ll need 4 or 5 apples, peaches, or pears, or 8 to 10 plums or apricots. If using fresh berries, omit steps 1 and 2. Makes 3 to 4 cups (about 1 kg) fruit with syrup.

For the fermented whole dried spices: cinnamon sticks; whole cardamom pods; allspice berries; black, green, or pink peppercorns—any whole dried spice you would want to grind to season your food will work wonderfully here—as well as dried chiles. Makes 1 cup (240 ml).

Ingredients

Sweet Fermented Fruit in Syrup

  • 1 heaping tablespoon (20 grams) baking soda
  • 2 quarts (just under 2 liters) cold water
  • 1 3/4 Pound (800 grams) whole thin-skinned fruit (see Notes)
  • Lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 1/4 Pound (560 grams) sugar

Fermented Whole Dried Spices and Chiles

  • 1 1/3 Ounce (60 g) whole dried spices, or ½ ounce (15 g) dried hot chiles, such as chile de árbol (see Notes)
  • 3/4 Cups (180 ml) 1:1 simple syrup (see below), at room temperature, plus more as needed

1:1 Simple Syrup

  • 1 1/2 Cup (300 grams) sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cup (320 ml) water

Peach Gazoz

  • 3-4 cubes ice
  • 5-6 fermented peach slices and 1-2 tablespoons syrup (see above)
  • 4-6 fermented pink peppercorns and 1 tablespoon syrup (see above)
  • 2-3 fresh basil leaves
  • 12 Ounces seltzer

Directions

Sweet Fermented Fruit in Syrup

Step 1: In a large bowl, combine 1 heaping tablespoon baking soda with 2 quarts cold water. Add the fruit to the solution so it is fully sumberged, then remove it, rub it well with a soft cloth to clean it and transfer to a separate large bowl filled with ice water. Let the fruit stand for 30 minutes to firm up.

Step 2: Slice the fruit into 1-inch (2.5 cm) wedges (remove the cores, stems, and pits); you should end up with about 11/2 pounds (700 grams) cut fruit. If you’re using fruits that might turn brown (such as apples, pears, quince, etc.), drop them in a bowl filled with a mixture of 90 percent water to 10 percent lemon juice as you slice them.

Step 3: Layer some of the fruit in a roughly 1-quart jar with a tight-fitting lid, then sprinkle with sugar. Continue to layer the fruit and sugar until the jar is filled, leaving at least 1½  inches of headroom at the top of the jar.

Step 4: Seal the jar tightly and let it stand on the counter until a syrup has formed and the fruit has softened and slumped slightly, 1 to 3 days, depending on the temperature of your kitchen; the sugar will dissolve more with each passing day. Open the jars daily to release any built-up pressure from fermentation, and also to check the progress of the fruit. This is the critical juncture; once you detect an aroma that is the essence of the fruit with a drop of sourness and acidity — sort of like cider — that is the time to decide if you want to let it ferment longer so it becomes more tart, or refrigerate the jar to slow fermentation. You can also dip a spoon in to taste the syrup, which will give you a good indication of what’s going on in the jar.

Step 5: When you are happy with the flavor of the fruit, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. Use the fermented fruit and its syrup within 2 weeks.

Fermented Whole Dried Spices and Chiles

Step 1: Place the spices or chiles in a clean 6-ounce (180 ml) jar with a tight-fitting lid, leaving about an inch of headroom.

Step 2: Carefully pour the simple syrup on top of the spices or chiles, making sure the spices or chiles are completely covered.

Step 3: Seal the jar tightly and rinse the outside with warm water to remove any sticky syrup; dry.

Step 4: Let stand at room temperature for at least 1 week before using, adding more simple syrup to cover the spices or chiles as they absorb the liquid, so the flavors really infuse into the syrup. The spices or chiles will keep at room temperature for at least a year. (If you’re going on a trip and your house will be left warm without air-conditioning while you’re gone, pop the jars in the refrigerator until you return.)

1:1 Simple Syrup

Step 1: Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Step 2: Boil just until the sugar has dissolved, then reduce the heat to very low and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.

Step 3: Let cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Peach Gazoz

Step 1: Put the ice cubes in a glass. Add the peach slices and syrup. Add the pink peppercorns and syrup.

Step 2: Pour the seltzer and garnish with the basil leaves.