One of my favorite nieces admitted she burned simple syrup last week so I suppose, as with most things, the word “simple” is relative but I trust this will be easy for most. She’s very, very good at other things. Plus, I doubt she had detailed photo instructions so now I’m sure she’ll be up to the task if she ever chooses to tackle it again. Which she may not. Like I said, she’s very good at other things.
Homemade simple syrups are great to have on hand for boozy summer cocktails as well as non-spirited drinks such as lemonade and flavored sodas. There are endless variations but this post will focus on summer berries and I’ll get around to different recipes using other fruit, herbs, and spices in future posts. I’m showing strawberries here but you could substitute equal amounts with raspberries, blackberries, marionberries, blueberries, huckleberries etc..
Here in Oregon, local strawberries are at the end of their season but raspberries are popping up at farm stands and farmers markets and they will soon (if not already) be accompanied by blueberries, blackberries, and marionberries. Huckleberries usually arrive by late July/early August and are a little harder to find but so worth it when you do! Try adding citrus, ginger root or fresh herbs like basil, mint, or thyme with the berries to make your own custom syrup. Your summer guests will love you!
Berry Simple Syrup
(Makes approximately 16 ounces)
1 pound berries (about 1.5 – 2 pints), rinsed, stemmed if necessary
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated (optional)
1 cup fresh basil, mint, or thyme (optional)
Rinse berries well then remove stems and pick out any moldy ones. Don’t be too picky about other bruises or imperfections as they will be cooked and mashed. Weigh them and place in a large saucepan.
Add sugar and water, place over medium heat, stir and mash berries until well combined and the sugar is dissolved.
Bring to a boil over medium/high heat, then reduce heat to medium/low.
At this point, you may add fresh herbs, citrus juice, or grated ginger (shown is one cup chopped basil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice) or leave the syrup as is and cook at a low boil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool for at least 15 minutes (or up tp an hour the more you want the herbs to steep) before transferring to a wire mesh strainer over a large bowl. Separate the liquids from the solids, mashing a bit to get all the good stuff in there.
Transfer to a mason jar or other pint size container and keep refrigerated. It should last at least a week or so in the fridge. You could also freeze it in a freezer bag for up to six months.
Have a safe and happy 4th of July!!!