Medronho is a Portuguese specialty from the Arbutus or Strawberry
Tree fruit. Slivova (slivovitz or plum brandy) is a Bulgarian
specialty from sweet dark plums (prunes). They are found on opposite
sides of Europe. Are there any connections?
Both are traditional clear fruit spirits produced in the countryside
on a large home distilling scale, usually secretly so as to to avoid
complications with tax. The prune and the strawbery tree fruit are
both high in natural sugars - 15-20% and 0.6% acid which make them
suitable for making wine and spirit. Unlike apples, both fruits are
soft when ripe and do not need crushing as they are compressed under
their own weight, and are fermented (with stones or seeds) for about
4-6 weeks using wild yeasts with a minimum addition of water. I have
seen that Medronho is made by fermenting 5 parts fruit to 1 part
Some rough calculations for fruit having 15-20% sugar content:
1)7 kg of fruit contains 1-1.5 kg sugar which would produce about 5
litres of must. When distilled it should produce 1 litre of 50%abv
Slivova or Medronho. 35 kg of fruit would make 25 litres of must.
Home distillers who do not have a large supply of the fruit, could
add sugar, as these days sugar is a quite cheap. The use of a high
alcohol producing yeast is recommended as wild yeasts are
2)15 kg fruit + 15 litres water + 3 kg sugar.
This should produce 25 litres of must as the 15 kg of fruit contains
approx. 10 l water and 2-3 kg sugar.
3)7 kg fruit + 20 litres water + 5 kg sugar
This also should produce 25 litres of must as the 7 kg of fruit
contains approx. 5 litres water and 1-1.5 kg sugar.
Most other fruits contain about 10% sugar with about the usual water
content. The acid content varies.