Summer is all about the fun things that you can only do in the hot weather--and remembering all the miserable cold days from last winter. Berry picking is one of those summer things that I enjoy a lot. There are so many different kinds to pick--strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries. I love to pick them. I love to eat them. I love the hot days more when I get to enjoy fresh berries.
What to do when you have more berries than you can eat? You can freeze them--and for a lot of years, that is the only way I preserved them. You can make jelly/jams but that requires a lot of work and it would go unappreciated around here.
Syrup is a great alternative. You can bottle it and then freeze it for later if you don't use it all right away.
Step 1: Making the Syrup
Berries--fresh or frozen (depending on the time of year)--strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.
Sugar (or other sweetener)--amount depends on your tastes and the tartness of your berries
Pot--to cook in
Stove--to cook on
Spoon--to stir with
Seive--to remove seeds
Put the berries and sugar in the pot. I usually use 3 cups of berries and 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar. You can throw in a splash of Lemmon juice if you want a bit of tardiness. Cook over medium heat stirring often until the mixture starts to boil. Boil for about 10 minutes while stirring. Turn stove off.
You can use it as is or you can strain out the seeds. If you are straining it, you should do it while it is hot. The syrup thickens as it cools. Press the pulp through the strainer.
Store the syrup in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator or freezer depending on how much you made and when you plan to use it. Sometimes when I make this it turns out so thick that it needs to be thinned down to a portable consistency for certain uses.
Step 2: Blackberry and Chia Seed Tea
I originally made this syrup in order to reproduce an energy drink.
Brew a cup of strong guayusa tea. Stir in a tablespoon or 2 of Chia seeds. Allow this to soak for at least an hour or 2.
Pour tea into a tall glass. Add a spoonful of blackberry syrup. Add ice. Stir and enjoy.
You can change the flavor by changing the kind of tea or the kind of berry.
Step 3: Pancakes
I grew up on pancakes with maple syrup. I love maple syrup. Nothing was better than waking up as a kid to find that dad was in a mood for pancakes. He made all the cool animal shapes. Great memories.
Over the years, I have had many other flavors of syrup on my pancakes. I love berry syrup on my pancakes. It is a summer flavor treat that can even warm up a winter morning.
If you are serving a pancake brunch, why not offer a few different flavors of syrup? I have noticed that some people enjoy mixing different syrups for even more variety.
Step 4: Flavored Milk
I had one of those children who would not drink milk even if he was likely to die of thirst. Occasionally, I could get him to have a little bit but I had to disguise it well. He caught on to chocolate syrup and even strawberry syrup from the store.
Think about your favorite flavor of berry ice cream. Make that kind of syrup. Adding a bit of syrup to a glass of milk will feel like you are treating yourself to a dish of ice cream.
Step 5: Ice Cream/yogurt Topping
I love blackberry syrup on vanilla ice cream. It is equally good on berry blast frozen yogurt.
You could try berry syrup on a dish of plain (unfrozen) yogurt.
Step 6: Topping for Other Deserts
I love cheesecake but hate the can of cherry pie filling that so many people use on top.
Try drizzling berry syrup over a slice and you will never want the canned stuff again.
You can drizzle the cheesecake with berry syrup before baking it and swirl it in with a knife. Looks pretty and doesn't need any further topping when serving (unless you want to).
Berry syrup is great drizzled on top of pound cake, angel food cake, or even a bunt cake--with or without whipped cream.
Step 7: Instead of Food Coloring
Berry syrup makes a pretty pink frosting, cake batter, and homemade marshmallow. You can add as much or as little as you like. It gives a nice natural flavor as well as color.
Step 8: Specialty Lemonade or Other Drinks
For a picnic or backyard barbecue, you can serve a pitcher of tart lemonade along side several bottles of different syrups. Add a little or a lot of syrup to sweeten the lemonade and flavor it to the guest's preference.
A splash of berry syrup can brighten up a soda or a glass or orange juice.