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Fruitful Innovations

Times Staff Writer

Tagged with an ongoing popular prescription for health, fresh fruits have always been on the hot seller food list, but even more so in recent years. Appliance companies have noted this, as evidenced by their nonstop parade of fruit-processing gadgets that churn Mother Nature’s wholesome contributions into juices, purees, extracts, sorbets, ice creams, shakes and now what?

Nikkal Industries, the company that revolutionized the Donvier--the non-fuss way to make homemade ice cream--has struck again with another innovation. Cordial connoiseurs, at your service is Cordially Yours from Donvier ($65), the electric, slow-heating appliance that converts fruits, nuts and spices into aromatic liqueurs. If you have ever made liqueurs at home, you know that the aging process needed to acquire that soothing mellow flavor takes from one to six months.

Not so in the Donvier.

By imitating nature--that is, converting household current to radiant energy like the sun’s--Cordially Yours can make liqueurs in just two to 12 hours in its insulated covered container. The process is very simple. Alcohol (usually vodka because it’s clear with less odor and taste) is poured into the container, then mixed with chopped fruits, zest, juices and/or flavorings (like coffee, anise, almond), spices and sweetening. The automatic timer is set according to the recipe. When the time is up, the mixture is strained and poured into a bottle for indefinite storage.

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Aside from boiling, which decomposes fruit, flavor, aroma and nutrients, the cordial maker eliminates the other steps frequently called for in typical liqueur recipes: shaking, turning, filtering and adding ingredients over time. However, when using fruit, peel or nuts, it’s best to allow the heated product to sit for about three days before straining to obtain a fully steeped taste. Also, save the drained fruit. A taste bonus, as we’ve discovered after making a rich red raspberry liqueur, comes from the delightful liqueur-enhanced fruit. This made a nice topping for ice cream, or you can use it for any other dessert.

In addition to time and labor, savings of 30% to 65% over costs of commercial liqueurs are another advantage of the Donvier appliance. A bonus for liqueur fans who want to avoid the high calorie content of commercial products is that sugar substitute may be used when making liqueur in the Donvier. The artificial sweetener should, however, be added after the aging in the unit.

Cordially Yours is not just for the liqueur connoisseur but has been discovered to be a creative tool for making vinegar from leftover wine, flavored vinegars, flavored oils and fruit syrups. To make flavored vinegar, start with white wine or distilled white vinegar; steeping takes about six hours. For every four cups vinegar, add one cup of loosely packed fresh herbs such as basil, tarragon, chive, mint and dill, or a head of garlic, one cup shallots or six chile peppers. For more ideas and information, call the Nikkal Consumer Hot Line: (800) 334-4559.

Perhaps the most common gadget for processing fresh fruits is the juicer. If you squeeze a lot of citrus daily, it may be time to replace the manual reamer with the electric counterpart. A worthwhile, inexpensive investment is the Automatic Citrus Juicer from Oster ($21.99). It’s great for squeezing out that last drop of juice from the fruit with minimal effort and time. Available in the sleek white Designer Line series, Model 4100-18, as well as in almond, Model 4100-06, the Oster juicer operates easily.

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The compact unit is activated by simply pressing the citrus fruit on the sensitive reamer. It’s designed to release the juice in two ways. You can either directly catch the juice in the 14-ounce pitcher or a round tray can be inserted to block the juice and allow it to flow out into the side spout. A serving glass or small pitcher can be placed under the spout to catch the juice. This is a wonderful feature for continuous juicing.

The Oster Automatic Citrus Juicer comes with a dust cover for storage and rubber feet to keep it from “walking” on the counter.

The Donvier Cordially Yours Cordial Maker is available at Robinson’s. The Oster Automatic Juicer in the Designer Line is available at J . C . Penney’s , while the almond unit can be purchased at Fedco.


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