Fresh Berry Syrup

Parfait made with yogurt, blackberry syrup, and fresh blackberries
Parfait made with yogurt, blackberry syrup, and fresh blackberries

Fresh Berry Syrup
This intensely flavored fresh syrup will take a plain food to the next level. The level of ecstasy.
Pictured: parfait made of plain Greek yogurt, sweetened with a little honey stirred in, and layered with reduced-sugar blackberry syrup* and fresh blackberries. Served in a vintage glass.

(*For this recipe, I used one quart of blackberries, which yielded almost 2 cups juice. I added 1 cup Splenda (the baking sugar, not the little packets), 1/4 cup white sugar, 2 T. honey, and 2 t. cornstarch plus 1/4 cup water.)

Yields about 3-4 cups
1 quart fresh or frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries, or combination), washed
about 1/2 cup water
2-3 cups sugar, or use honey, maple syrup, or try sugar substitutes in place of part of the sugar
Optional: 1-2 T. lemon juice, if berries are very sweet
Optional: cinnamon or vanilla
Optional: 2-3 t. cornstarch plus 1/4 cup water (if making reduced sugar syrup)

In a medium saucepan, add berries, and 1/4 cup water (if using strawberries, add 1/2 cup water). Cover; bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the berries are very soft, about 5 minutes. Crush the berries with a potato masher.
Set a fine sieve over a glass measuring cup. Pour the berry pulp into the sieve and allow the juice to drip through. Gently press the pulp with a rubber spatula to extract as much juice as possible.
Clean the saucepan. Measure the juice, then pour it into the saucepan. For every cup juice, add a cup of sugar; or if you like it less sweet, add less sugar. You can also substitute honey or maple syrup, or sugar substitutes for part of the sugar. If you like, add some lemon juice, cinnamon, or vanilla. If making a low-sugar syrup, stir in 2-3 t. cornstarch mixed into 1/4 cup water, for a thicker consistency. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered a few minutes until the syrup thickens slightly. Pour the syrup into clean jars or bottles. If you’re not canning the syrup, put the jars on a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate. Before serving, warm desired amount in the microwave, stirring if necessary.

To can the syrup:
Bring water almost to a boil in a large pot fitted with a rack insert. Carefully put small empty canning jars or bottles and their bands in the water and then turn off the heat. Add lids with new seals. Keep warm up to five minutes.
Remove the jars and rims with tongs, emptying the water from the jars. Ladle syrup into the jars, leaving about 1/4 inch of headroom. Wipe the rims clean, place the seals over, then screw on the lids fingertip tight.
Put the jars in the pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, and boil briskly for 10 minutes.
Transfer the jars to a rack. Cool for 12 to 24 hours. When the syrup is cool, check the seals by pressing on the lids. The lids should be taut. If a lid bounces when you press on it, the seal is imperfect, and you will have to repeat the canning process with a new lid, or refrigerate the syrup and use within two weeks.
Store in a cool, dark place for up to a year. Once a jar is opened, refrigerate.

Serving suggestions:
Berry syrups are terrific on pancakes and waffles. Try over ice cream, rice pudding, cake, or oatmeal. Or stir into plain yogurt. Try brushing them over baked ham or a pork roast to create a sweet, fruity glaze. And for a delicious homemade soda, add one part syrup to two parts chilled seltzer water.

Fresh berry syrup on a waffle with berries and butter
Fresh berry syrup on a waffle with berries and butter

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