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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

add sugar

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

Strawberry Syrup
[print recipe]
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.]

40 nibbles at “irresistible”

  1. Kiersten Falls says:

    Ohhhh yeah! My mind is spinning with what can be done with Strawberry Syrup. Ice cream, oh wait a second… you have the frozen banana ice cream. Yes! Got to go I am going to be busy.

  2. Barbara says:

    Beautiful strawberries Jen. In Queensland our best strawberries arrive around June July, our winter. I bought some last week which were fabulous. Our summers are too dry for good strawberries.

  3. Fiona says:

    Wow. That’s some color. We like to make sodas and -ades in the summer. This might make this year’s lineup.

  4. Melissa @ Baking For The Boys says:

    Great minds think alike! I’ve been making strawberry syrup lately. I add it to my son’s milk-strawberry milk is now his fave!

  5. Katie says:

    This is such a great idea! I recently bought a water carbonating system so I’ve got on demand fizzy water any old time I want. I’m not really a fan of sugary drinks, and I love the idea of making flavoured syrups and just adding a splash to some soda. Mmmmm, strawberry soda! Thanks for the recipe!

  6. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    Mmmm I could put this on just about anything!

  7. GG from Quieting Life says:

    Wow, $12 a quart! Here in Vermont, the good organic berries are ‘only’ $7 or so. Although I’m more of a pick-your-own girl.

    If anyone doubts the superiority of organic produce, have them taste a perfectly ripe organic strawberry side-by-side with a non-organic one. I tried it once…organic first (heaven) then non- (tasted like chemicals).

    Awesome lightning shot, by the way.

  8. Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon says:

    This would be excellent for strawberry lemonade. So much better than blitzing them in the food processor and then straining them to avoid the itty bitty seeds.

  9. Carla says:

    Marisa’s strawberry jam is pretty fantastic too! Made 3, 1/2 pints of that last week…perfect for a family of two! Mix a touch in “The Yummy life” overnight oatmeal recipe….too good!!

  10. JulieT says:

    Strawberry Daiquiri anyone…Just add an ounce of light rum, the juice of a small half lime, 1 Tbsp of syrup, shake vigorously and pour over crushed ice…and top with a splash of club soda

  11. David W. Mayer says:

    Jennifer, Do you know the variety of strawberries from Red Wagon? We are growing Tri-Star “day neutrals” but would love to grow a sweeter berry.



  12. Marisa says:

    Oh Jen, thank you for this gorgeous post! I’m so happy you’re enjoying the strawberry syrup.

  13. Heather says:

    What is the shelf-life for this syrup? I am thinking of giving this as a wedding present

  14. Deborah K. says:

    While your way works absolutely fine, having a steam juicer makes for incredible juice from all sorts of berries, other fruits, even excellent chicken broth. SOOOOO much easier than using a jelly bag for most fruits like grapes, especially the smaller sweeter organic ones that are difficult to clean and/or seed. Anyone who’s fought the jelly bag fight will understand. Some people don’t stem fruit, though I still do because I can taste the ‘green things’… no huge need to core strawberries though. Grapes, it’s totally fine to leave most of the stems on.

  15. ellen says:

    yikes! yowza! zowy! $12/quart? I need to get a better job. Thanx for the inspiration!

  16. ATasteOfMadness says:

    Wow, those almost do look too good to eat.
    Great recipe, thank you!

  17. Shut Up & Cook says:

    In Boulder and loving working my way through your restaurant reccos. Just did Kitchen Cafe today, delicious! Thanks for the tips.

  18. na says:

    We pay $7/pint for organic strawberries at my farmer’s market and I think *I’m* bring ripped off :-)

  19. Judy says:

    I wish I’d had this recipe before last weekend (June 2). That was the day my local strawberry grower had their end-of-season $1/pound sale. Last year I bought 10 pounds for jam and dessert. This recipe would be terrific.

  20. katyo says:

    you should make strawberry fruit leather with the pulp!! add some sugar to taste, then spread to 1/4″ thick on parchment lined cookie sheets. dry in oven (can’t remember the temp, but this is where google comes in handy!) roll, and cut. YUM!!

  21. jenyu says:

    Kiersten – :)

    Barbara – it’s nice to know that you and I are enjoying strawberries at the same time on opposite sides of the globe in opposite seasons! xo

    Fiona – it’s a keeper, girl.

    Melissa – nice idea.

    Katie – ahhh, I’m jealous! I love those things!

    Katrina – :)

    GG – yes, well… Boulder is not cheap, but I do my part to support my local businesses. And I 100% agree about organic vs. conventional strawberries. No comparison.

    Wendi – yes, I’m going to mix a batch of that too! hee hee

    Carla – I’ve been eying that recipe too. Too many good ones to try in her book.

    JulieT – this syrup is going to get heavy rotation while the berries are still coming!

    David – I wrote to Red Wagon Organic Farm and they said it was about 5 varieties, but that they do not disclose their strawberry varieties because competing farms take their research and then grow the same. I can tell you that they are wonderful little berries…

    Marisa – thank you for your delightful book. I treasure it!!

    Heather – 2 weeks in the refrigerator. If you want it to last longer, you can can it (get Marisa’s book to see how – I haven’t done it yet because I’m too busy consuming this amazing syrup).

    Deborah – okay. I have no idea what that is.

    ellen – the price of living in paradise.

    ATasteOfMadness – thank you!

    Shut Up and Cook – you’re welcome. Great eats in Boulder, to be sure.

    na – If you’re paying $7/pint then you pay $14/quart which is more than $12/quart. And if you think it’s a rip off, you certainly don’t have to buy it. It’s not just about price, but about supporting a local farm.

    Judy – wow, I am crying a little on the inside reading that.

    katyo – the pulp is pretty lifeless and tasteless by the time we’re done with it.

  22. Happenings. | Yogak8 says:

    […] picking will likely happen this weekend or next.  This will ensue […]

  23. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    Our Farmer’s Market opens tonight….

    sigh…hope they have some strawberries…

  24. na says:

    Lol, I meant $7/ THREE pints :-) and recently $10/6 pints
    I blame my fingers.

  25. na says:

    And if you ever visit the bay area again, check out berryessa farmers market on peidmont street in San Jose. It’s just a couple of blocks away from milpitas. That’s where I get my cheap organic strawberries from.

  26. Polish Vegan » Summer Strawberries! says:

    […] recipe comes from Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars found on the Use Real Butter blog and I think it would also work for raspberries or blackberries too. Posted on June 22, 2012 by […]

  27. Mrs Ergül says:

    AMAZING STRAWBERRIES!!! I want to live where you do!

  28. Strawberry Infused Bourbon and a Strawberry Basil Bourbon Sour says:

    […] Syrup, via Canning for a New Generation: a sodastream related project, for sure. Here’s a strawberry syrup recipe from the Food in Jars […]

  29. Karin S. says:

    Been thinking about this constantly since I was in Boulder & I made it today – amazing! Thank you!!

  30. bo says:

    Why cant the strawberries be added? Wouldnt there still be some flavor?

  31. jenyu says:

    Bo – they’re pretty dead after boiling the heck out of them.

  32. Martina says:

    Can you do this with blueberries?

  33. CANDIE says:


  34. jenyu says:

    Martina – Not sure as I’ve never tried it before.

    Candie – The solids are pretty tasteless when you are done with them. Also, please stop shouting.

  35. MaryBeth says:

    Do you think the syrup could be frozen instead of canning it? Just wondering.

  36. jenyu says:

    MaryBeth – I have frozen the syrup for short term (like no more than a month) before and it was fine. Strawberry vodka also freezes well too :)

  37. Laurie says:

    Silly question but everybody keeps saying that they will use this for drinks but this can be used over waffles and the like? Correct?

  38. jenyu says:

    Laurie – absolutely! :)

  39. Robert says:

    Shouldn’t you cover so that you don’t lose water volume? Or are you making a concentrate?

  40. jenyu says:

    Robert – It’s pretty concentrated, so no need to cover. Just use a little syrup with some soda water or lemonade – it goes a long way.

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