Thursday, June 28, 2007

Strawberry Syrup

As a child growing up, I enjoyed reading The Little House On The Prairie books. I was amazed at what they did to survive. A child of the Seventies, all I knew were supermarkets. Sure, my parents and grandparents told me stories about how it was when they were growing up but stories about the someone getting the first car or TV in the neighborhood didn’t compare to the seemingly outlandish concept of having to hunt and grow everything you were going to eat for the next year. My young mind fell in love with the concept of being able to make my own maple syrup. We had maple trees in the front yard, we could do it too, right? Luckily my parents put a quick end to that concept before the maple trees in our yard and the red maple trees in the other yards were harmed. But I still had the dream.
When I grew up, I’m going to have lots of land with lots of maple trees and I’m going to make my syrup! Alas, that dream has yet to come to fruition. I live in an exurb of Chicago, surrounded by strip malls and townhomes. Yeah, there is a maple tree in one of the common areas but I think if I stuck a tap in it and hung a bucket, it would probably end up bent over like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. Come to think of it, there’s probably something in the bylaws of homeowners association against it too.
However, despite the lack of maple trees and an angry homeowners association, I can still make my own syrup. The farmer’s market season started here about two weeks ago and there is a great selection of fruit. Containers of cherries and blueberries were at most of the stands and this week strawberries started making an appearance. Besides being just plain good to eat, they work well in jellies and jams, but they also make very good syrups.

Strawberry Syrup
Yields about 3 cups

1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
1 Tbls. lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 Tbls. cold water

In a 2-quart saucepan combine the strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, and corn syrup and bring to a simmer over medium heat. As this mixture heats up, mix the water and the cornstarch and stir until the cornstarch dissolves. Once the syrup simmers, add the cornstarch slurry. Continuously stir until the syrup starts simmering again and goes from cloudy to clear. If the berries are not broken down enough, use an immersion blender or run through a fine-mesh strainer before serving. Serve warm.

- Other berries like blackberries and raspberries work as well. Strain for seeds before serving.
- Rhubarb adds a nice touch as well. Use 3/4 cup rhubarb and 3/4 cup strawberries. Start the syrup using the rhubarb first and then add the strawberries once the rhubarb is tender.

All pictures are from the morgueFile archive.

Also appearing at Sugar Savvy and featured on the Well Fed Network.


Trace said...

Any recommended substitutions for the corn syrup and corn starch in this recipe? Could you use honey and potato starch?

Paul said...

Honey and corn syrup can usually be interchanged as a sweetener, though I can't say I like honey and berries together. I'd recommend golden syrup, but I'm guessing England isn't going to suddenly appear off the coast of North Carolina anytime soon so I'm thinking that won't help you. If I didn't have corn syrup on hand I'd probably just make an equivalent amount of simple syrup and use that.

I don't see an issue with using potato starch or arrowroot or instant tapioca.

marye said...

I thought I was reading my own post for a second.
I don't have the maple trees (they dont grow well in Tx and it looks NOTHING like the Big Woods here) but I do like to make my own syrups..and milk my own goats, and have my own I am kind of living it..sort of..
I haven't tried strawberry syrup tho...I can't wait!

Jennifer said...

This strawberry syrup sounds absolutely delicious. I have never had it made homemade before, just from a plastic jar or whatever from the store. And I still haven't had REAL maple syrup either!

Amy said...

I used to dream about making the maple candy from Little House in the Big Woods - pouring it on the snow and then eating it! In college I even tried to pour maple syrup on a plate and put it in the freezer to try and recreate it. It never worked, but I tried for awhile!

Paul said...

marye, some day I hope to be able to milk my own goats and have chickens. I'm working on it.

Jennifer, try real maple syrup. Those other 'pancake' syrups never measure up.

Amy, I've thought about making those candies too. I think they were either eating maple popsicles or they boiled the syrup until most of the moisture was gone (250°F to 265°F; hard-ball stage in candy-making terms).