Recipe: strawberry syrup
Despite the months of faux summer we’ve been experiencing, the real thing is soon upon us. We spent the entire weekend in “spring cleaning” mode. Then with the High Park fire in Colorado burning strong to the north, we took the time to cull and update our important documents and other critical items for the evacuation bin. Always be prepared, right? It’s going to be a long summer.
we could use more rain, less lightning (although i do love the lightning)
Believe it or not, I have been waiting for summer with anticipation. Waiting for those strawberries to arrive at the markets. I don’t mean the strawberries that have to travel a thousand miles from California (or Mexico) to the grocery stores – picked too early and bred for making the long journey at the expense of flavor, sweetness, ripeness. I’m referring to the lovely local gems that are misshapen, small, imperfect, and smell like candy.
don’t mind if i do
If you have no idea what I am talking about, then you might want to try and hunt some down. If you DO know what I’m talking about… right on! I used to feel lukewarm about strawberries because most of the strawberries I’ve eaten in my life have been store-bought and not especially outstanding. On occasion I’ve enjoyed U-pick strawberries, or happened upon the Oxnard strawberry festival in southern California, or purchased a flat from a farmer on the side of the road in California’s Central Valley after a weekend backpack trip in Kings Canyon. But these little gems, these will make you a lover… an obsessed lover.
i stalked several pints last week at the boulder farmer’s market
they are almost too pretty to eat… almost
Bite into this strawberry and it bleeds red, sweet, and fragrant. The insides aren’t white, but deep red. The berries are juicy instead of having that texture of packing materials. We ate plenty of them straight – my favorite way to enjoy a proper strawberry. I also saved out a few quarts for projects despite my strong urge to shovel them all down my gullet.
small as a dime with big big flavor
My friend, Marisa, who writes the phenomenal Food in Jars, has a new cookbook out that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on for over a year. It’s a book on canning, but in small batches, which is perfect for me. I received my review copy last month and I’ll do a canning recipe in another post, but one recipe was screaming to be made: strawberry syrup.
organic, unsprayed strawberries and sugar
hull and quarter (or halve if they are small) the berries
add water to the berries
Wash, top, and quarter (or halve) the strawberries and place them in a saucepan with water. Bring the water to a boil and then simmer. This process draws all of the juice and flavor and color from the strawberries, turning them a lifeless, dull pinkish-gray. Strain the juice through a sieve and discard the strawberry mass. My biggest issue with the recipe was getting over the fact that the strawberries are tossed, but it’s okay since the essence has been transferred to the liquid.
bring to a boil
the water turns bright red
strain the juice – but don’t press the berries
When you strain the liquid, Marisa warns against the temptation to press the berries for every last bit of juice, because that will result in a cloudy syrup (if you’re okay with that, then go for it). Put the sugar and juice together in your saucepan and bring to a boil.
return the strawberry liquid to the pan
This is serious strawberry flavor. I could smell it long before the syrup was done. Kaweah kept stepping into the kitchen with her schnoz in the air, trying to get a whiff of that heavenly scent. The taste is almost unreal, it is so strongly strawberry and fabulous! I made a small strawberry soda with a dash of syrup and some soda water over ice. Wow. You can’t buy it this good in a store. And look at that color! Ridiculous. It’s such a straightforward recipe and all you need to do is get your hands on some proper strawberries. I am in love! If you want to can the syrup, Marisa’s book, Food in Jars has the instructions for that.
strawberry soda and syrup
from Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan
2 pints (715 g) strawberries, hulled and chopped
3 cups (720 ml) water
2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
Place the strawberries and 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for 15 minutes until the water has turned a bright red and the strawberries are soft and a faded pink. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve, taking care not to press the strawberries (okay, I pressed ever so gently, but don’t go nuts). Pressing the berries will result in a cloudy syrup. When the berries are done dripping, discard the solids and return the juice to the saucepan with the 2 cups of sugar. Heat the juice and sugar over high heat, stirring to help dissolve the sugar, until it comes to a boil. Skim any foam that forms on the surface. Remove from heat and let cool. Makes 1 liter (about a quart). [Edit: Will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator or you can can it for longer storage. Please refer to Marisa's book on how to process and can this recipe.]