With the bounty of spring and summer fruits only a couple of months away, now is a great time to use up the last of the frozen fruit still tucked away in the freezer. Fruit syrups are a simple and delicious way to capture the flavors of the warm seasons without spending hours rolling out pastry or whipping up cake batter.
Fruit syrup, at its most basic, is simply equal parts juice and sugar boiled together until the sugar dissolves and you’re left with a silky smooth syrup bursting with fruit flavor.
Start with good fruit such as plums, peaches, or raspberries. Place in a saucepan and barely cover with water. You don’t want too much water or the juice will be insipid. Bring the fruit and water to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat slightly and simmer 5-10 minutes until fruit is soft and mushy. Remove from heat and pour into cheesecloth-lined strainer. Cover and leave to drain for several hours. I like to simmer my fruit in the evening and leave it to drain while I sleep.
When you’re ready to make your syrup, simply measure the amount of juice you have, pour it into a saucepan, and add an equal amount of sugar. (You can also use real maple syrup instead if you don’t mind the maple flavoring with your fruit.) Bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce and simmer, stirring regularly, until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat, let cool, and bottle. Store in fridge if you plan to use it soon, or put through a hot water bath to seal the bottles for storage.
Make It Magnificent
The best part about making fruit syrup is that it’s so easy to take it from simple to sublime.
Instead of cooking your fruit with plain water, consider simmering it in a strong tea. Try pairing juicy plums with black tea or one laced with spices and orange peel. Try white peaches simmered in hibiscus tea or pears with ginger tea.
Throw in a few spices such as star anise with raspberries, cinnamon with apricots, or a vanilla pod with tart apples.
When your fruit syrup is made, there are myriad ways to use it. Stir a spoonful into a hot cup of tea in place of your usual sweetener, or take your cocktail to new heights of deliciousness by stirring in a fruit syrup where simple syrup is called for.
Drizzle fruit syrup over pancakes or scones, whip it into cream for a flavorsome syllabub, or stir it into sliced fruit for pies, crumbles, or cobblers. Make your own grown-up jell-o by adding powdered gelatin to the syrup while it is still hot, stirring until it dissolves, then pouring the mixture into martini glasses to chill and firm in the fridge.