Palinka, what is it?

Pálinka is a traditional fruit brandy from Eastern Europe. It can be made from all kind of fruits, but mostly plums,
apricots and pears are used. The name pálinka is a protected geographical region and only fruit brandy’s from
Hungary and the “Burgenland”-region of Austria can carry this name. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia it is known as pálenka, and in Romania, Italy, and Greece as palincă. So slightly different spellings. When grains are used instead of fruit the
drink is known as Tótpálinka. There is also a version made of pomace, similar to the Italian grappa which is then
called Törkölypálinka or just Törköly.

To create a fruit brandy that’s like pálinka you start with mashing and fermenting your fruits. Often fruits like pears
or plums start to ferment instantly, because there’s natural yeast on the skins of the fruit. Be sure to remove all
stones and stalks. The stones contain cyanide, which give you a lovely almondy flavor when distilled, but is
really toxic. The stalks will give you a lot of pectine in your mash, which will turn into methanol during distillation.
Also undesired. You can add more yeast to the fermentation to keep it going. If you want to experiment with the
fermentation, adding special wine yeasts (like chardonnay or tokay) will give you more fruity flavors.
Fermentation can take up to 20 days.