Literally translating to "farmer boys," boerenjongens is a dish of preserved raisins made with brandy. This dish is traditionally eaten at the Christmas holidays in the Netherlands. Sometimes called bridal tears, it was once often served at weddings. Used as both an appetizer and a dessert, boerenjongens usually sits for months before it is eaten.
With relatively few ingredients boerenjongens is generally simple to make. Light or dark raisins may be used. In addition to raisins, sugar and cinnamon are usually added. Either ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick may be used, and some versions may omit the cinnamon altogether. Although brandy is traditionally a key element in this dish, whiskey may be substituted.
To make boerenjongens, the raisins and cinnamon are placed in a pan and just covered with water. Then, the mixture is heated. The raisins swell as they cook, and afterward, they are drained. Once drained, the sugar is added and mixed until it is dissolved. Then, the alcohol is usually included. Some versions, however, allow the sugar-raisin mixture to rest in jars for two days before adding the alcohol.
After the mixture is complete, it is placed into clean pint or quart sized jars and sealed tightly. Normally, the boerenjongens is allowed to sit in the jars for one to six months before use. Some versions may allow the preserved fruit to be eaten sooner. It is generally agreed, however, that boerenjongens is better the longer it is allowed to sit.
Although this dish requires tightly sealing jars, boerenjongens does not require a canner. The use of alcohol, rather than a pressure sealed container, accomplishes the task of preserving the raisins. Even though canning is not required, it is still important to ensure the jars are extremely clean before the fruit is placed inside and tightly sealed afterward. This caution ensures nothing unwanted enters the jars.
Boerenjongens can be eaten plain or used as ingredients for other dishes. When eaten plain, it is usually served in small glasses and eaten with spoons. It is also used as an ingredient in fruit cakes or in various types of puddings, such as buttermilk, macaroon, or raisin. Boerenjongens may also be used as an ice cream topping.
Although not always found easily outside of the Netherlands, boerenjongens can be purchased commercially online. Stores specializing in Dutch foods may carry jars. In some areas of the Netherlands, it is popular enough to have its own ice cream flavor.