The first recipe made with our glut of blackberries was blackberry vinegar, which happens to still be steeping away in the basement on a shelf that also houses our multi pack stash of toilet paper. I know, I know, not very aspirational, is it? I’d love to be able to tell you that the vinegar is steeping away in a heirloom fieldstone vinegar cave, but alas, it is not. Unless we count the entire stone foundation of our house as an heirloom (or heritage – take your pick) fieldstone vinegar cave. Hey, let’s do that, shall we?
With the next pint of berries, I decided to counter the sour of vinegar with the sweet of simple syrup (a pattern of logic that does nothing to explain the giant blackberry crumble made with the next two pints of blackberries harvested – sweet begets more sweet?). We have giant bags of sugar on hand all through the summer, as JR makes simple syrup for the hummingbirds (though at a 1 part sugar to 4 parts water ratio, unlike the good-for-cocktails recipe below), and they guzzle that shiz up like crazy.
Like the hummingbirds, I prefer a lighter syrup, though not quite as light, so I go with one part sugar to one part water, then give it all a good stir before setting the pot on the stove because the sugar will start to dissolve into the water before it’s heated, and less stirring during the cooking time helps hinder the formation of crystallized sugar in your final syrup.
This recipe makes roughly four cups of syrup, and will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 6 months. I gave some to my neighbor across the street because she’s a good cocktail maker (mixologist. damned straight.) and I thought she’ll enjoy an August Sunday evening or two with blackberry, gin or vodka, and freshly squeezed lime juice, though she mentioned drizzling it over ice cream, which sounds like a pretty good idea. Heck, let’s make a blackberry soda ice cream float – I think I’ll use black raspberry ice cream in mine.
I, for one, love a good fruit syrup soda, even without ice cream, so I mix one ounce syrup with 4 ounces sparkling mineral water, add a slice of lime and one of the millions of blackberries on our property (though the blackberry garnish is not required) to the glass, and sip away. Sure, we can add some booze to the mix if we want – or ice cream, but before cocktail/float hour, or on nights that we want to be good and pious (or something), this soda hits the spot.
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 pint (approximately 2 cups) blackberries (or raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, whatever you like), picked through to eliminate stems, leaves, and any rotten berries
- Pour the water and sugar into a medium saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon to start dissolving the sugar.
- Place the pan on the stovetop on medium heat, stirring very occasionally with a wooden or stainless steel spoon to dissolve the sugar.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, add the berries and increase the heat to medium high.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 2 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat.
- Allow the syrup to cool, covered, for at least 20 minutes.
- Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer or colander lined with cheese cloth, pressing the berries gently to release their juices.
- Discard the berries, then pour the syrup into airtight containers, and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
In the case of the drink pictured here, I poured 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) blackberry simple syrup over ice, followed by 1/2 cup (4 ounces) sparkling mineral water, stirred well, then added a squeeze of lime. Refreshing as all get out.
If you prefer a sweeter drink, start with a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio and add more sparkling water to taste.