Create You Own Special Blends!
Grocery stores have evolved to the point now that certain fruits and berries are available year round. Items like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and even strawberries are pretty easy to come by even in the dead of winter. This makes it easier than ever to whip up a flavored simple syrup whenever the need arises. A better idea though might be to mix them up and then freeze them. That way not only are they available at a moments notice, you can also use other fruits, such as peaches, when they are in season.
What is a simple syrup? Well it is just what the name implies, simple to make and simple to use. They are great for making fruity adult mixed drinks and even snow cones for the kids. A minimum of two ingredients comprise a syrup mixture, water and sugar at a 1:1 ratio. The fun comes in when you start adding the fruits and berries alone or in combination to the brew. A sample recipe for a syrup mixture would be as follows.
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc…
- Freezer tape (Always label your syrups).
You would then combine the ingredients (you will want to cut larger fruit into smaller pieces) into a pot, bring to a boil and then continue to simmer for about 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes is up remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool completely.
The cooled mixture will of course be filled with all kinds of solids like pulp, which you will want to remove. To accomplish this feat we simply line a wire mesh strainer with several layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. Pour the fruit mixture into the strainer and allow the liquids to drain into the bowl, squeezing out the remaining liquid after draining is finished.
As an alternate and I think easier method of removing the solids is to grab a fine mesh fruit bag at your local supermarket. These are much cheaper than cheese cloth and have the added virtue of being reusable. Simply line a strainer with the fruit bag and pour the mixture in, all of the solids will be trapped and you can squeeze the bag to retrieve the remaining liquid. Then wash and reuse.
Now all you need to do is to pour the syrup into ketchup squeeze bottles or other handy container and pop it into the freezer. This syrup mixture will not freeze completely due to its high sugar content, but this is a good thing. I say this because it makes it easy to thaw them by filling your sink with warm water and soaking the container for a short time.
Here is a warning though about the amount of sugar you use in the syrup. The standard recipe calls for a 1 to 1 mix of sugar to water. Certain fruits, such as ripe peaches, are higher in sugar than other fruits and that sugar will be added the syrup as well. So taste the fruit first and if it tastes very sweet reduce sugar to water ratio to ¾ to 1 or ½ to 1.
Now grab yourself some fruits and berries and start mixing up a few simple syrups. Don’t be afraid to combine berries and fruits either, mix up a batch of peach/strawberry or blackberry/blueberry, you never know when you’re going come up with the next great mixture.
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