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Sunday, July 24, 2011

made me some black raspberry syrup

homemade soda using black raspberry syrup and sparkling water
Last summer was my first shot at making home made jelly when I helped Greg preserve a batch of wild grapes. He was on a bike ride when he discovered tons of wild grapes growing on trees right along the trail he was riding on. He stuffed his backpack full of tiny little grapes and rode home with them. The idea of making jelly never interested me much (1: I don't really eat jelly. I'm more of a butter girl and 2: I always thought it was too time consuming and technically difficult for me) but the idea of Greg gathering berries on the road side as people drove past, gawking and giving him weird looks and then carefully putting them all in his backpack and riding all the home with them  strapped to his back just makes me smile. So when he asked me if I wanted to help him make wild grape jelly I just couldn't say no. I was intrigued by all the work he put into getting them. I mean, do you know how many tiny little wild grapes it takes to make just a few jars of jelly? A whole backpack full.

Anyway, That was the day I learned that jam and jelly making was not only easy, it was fun. I've made (and helped make) several batches since then.  I've made elderberry, concord grape, dandelion, and even wild violet jelly among others. My problem is that I like making jam and jelly much more than I like eating it and my family and friends no longer appreciate my jam gift giving as an alternative to real gifts. My cheapness wasn't fooling anyone.  So this year, instead of wasting all the wonderful wild berries I have access to, I have gotten the brilliant idea to make several batches of berry syrups. They can be used for all sorts of things; Flavoring drinks like lemonade, iced tea, and sparkling water, drizzling over pancakes, waffles and ice cream, even as base for sauces in savory dishes like chicken and pork. Its satisfies my canning itch and also happens to be useful rather than wasteful. Great!

The last few weeks I have been picking lots of wild black raspberries and made several jars of syrup. In one small batch I threw in a couple split vanilla beans to infuse into the berries while they were cooking. I later found that the vanilla was almost overpowering so next time I'll just use one or maybe even a half a bean. Black raspberries have such a wonderful tart, almost wine-like taste that its kind of a shame to hide it behind too much vanilla which is exactly what I did. Lesson learned.

The recipe I used for the black raspberry syrup was similar to the one at Food In Jars and that can be found here. I made two batches and modified it slightly when I added vanilla to one batch and a bit less lemon juice in the other. Just didn't have enough fresh juice so I only used about two tablespoons of that. I did follow her advice when she suggested adding vinegar to the strained berry seeds to make a berry infused vinegar. You also do not have to process or "can" the syrup if you you aren't ready for that commitment. The syrup can be stored in any container in your fridge for a month. You can also do this with any other fruit I'd imagine. Recipes are out there I bet.
this is the syrup boiling down after the seeds have been strained

pouring into jars
two batches plus two jars of raspberry vineger, which will make some kick ass vinegrette I think.
2-3 tbs syrup + 6 oz sparkling water or club soda = happiness!
Now this is the math I'm good at.
There are now lots of ripe blackberries out there. Unlike black raspberries, blackberry thorns are the approximate size of machetes so I am still contemplating risking my life to get enough berries to make a few, seemingly small, jars of syrup. Not only do I have to wear long pants and sleeves in this 90 degree weather to get to them but I also have to fight off crow-sized mosquitoes as well. For some reason, blackberry syrup doesn't seem so great at this moment in time.


  1. You know what else would be good with black raspberry syrup? Home made yogurt! Learn how to make it at my friend Marcy's blog.

  2. Thanks for the plug! I just made another batch of yogurt yesterday. Another use for jam is to eat it with cheese. I just posted a blog on this today!