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Homemade brandy is probably the easiest of all the "spirits" to make. In fact, once you know how to make this wonderfully sweet sippin' drink, you'll want to make a few batches for yourself and your friends.

There are two stages to the process: making it and bottling it. In the first step, you will need your fruit of choice (peaches and blackberries work very well), sugar, one or more receptacles for the brewing of your brandy (crocks or very large glass bowls are the best choices), plastic wrap, and something flat to lay over the top of the bowls.

Wash your receptacles thoroughly as well as your fruit. If your fruit is overly ripe, no problem; it's only going to break down more as it ferments. Remove all stems and leaves and put a layer of fruit in your receptacle. Then, add a thin layer of sugar. Repeat this simple process until your receptacle is full: fruit, sugar, fruit, sugar. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and a lid. Set aside for four months in a dark place like a cabinet or a closet.

During this time, the fruit and sugar will ferment to make your brandy. If you're tempted to peek at the process, go right ahead but remember to seal it back securely.

At the end of four months, bring out the crocks or bowls and begin to strain the brandy from the fruit into Mason jars. I like to use coffee filters, which remove all the fruit pulp. If you like a bit of "swirl" to yours, use cheesecloth instead, but some folks don't like to see fruit pulp in their brandy. It's a personal choice.

After you're done, simply add your fruit residue to the compost pile. Then, decorate the lids of your Mason jars with a bit of fabric or stickers and give to your friends as very special Christmas presents. Brandy begun during late July will be ready in time for Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays.

See how easy it is? You may use any fruit you wish but peaches and berries seem to make the best brandy. Just don't forget to keep some for your own enjoyment!