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.
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.