This is my second post in a series on how to use a flat of strawberries in five days. Every year at this time I remind you guys that at many farmers’ markets the price for a flat of strawberries, which is eight quarts, is the same as the price for six individual quarts.
That is a great deal, but only if you actually use all the berries before they go bad. With strawberries being notoriously perishable, that is no small task. So my goal is to give you plenty of ideas for using all those strawberries. These posts are also helpful, I hope, for those of you who like to go strawberry-picking — something that is definitely on my summer to-do list.
Today’s post is about strawberry syrup. Strawberry syrup is a very nice thing to have on hand for pouring on pancakes, making homemade strawberry milk, or mixing into cocktails. Mix it into your favorite frosting recipe for a strawberry-flavored frosting. This is fairly basic, but I most enjoy strawberry syrup mixed with sparkling water, which is known as an Italian soda.
On the other hand, did I mention homemade strawberry milk? Do not bother with the store-bought, chemical-laden strawberry syrup. Mix this syrup into whole milk and transport yourself back to childhood with the best strawberry milk of your life. Have a kid who won’t drink his milk? This is the solution.
You can also make mind-blowing strawberry ice cream sodas by mixing several tablespoons of this syrup with 1/4 cup milk and 1 cup club soda. Divide the mixture evenly between four tall parfait glasses. Add two scoops of strawberry ice cream and you have an old-fashioned summer dessert that will make your and friends and family weak in the knees.
The uses for strawberry syrup are limited only by your imagination. Why not mix some into a dressing for a spinach salad? Drizzle it over pound cake? Swirl it into yogurt and top with crunchy granola? Sweeten iced tea with it? Perhaps you can think of even more ideas.
I like to preserve my strawberry syrup to last me through the winter. If canning is not your thing, do not worry: a jar of strawberry syrup will last for ages in the refrigerator. The recipe below, however, makes four pints of syrup which is a lot to store in the fridge. If you are not planning to preserve the syrup, the extra pints would make a great food swap item or hostess gift. Or you may simply want to halve the recipe so you only end up with two pints for your fridge.
Five quarts down, three to go!
- 3 quarts strawberries, hulled (about ten cups berries)
- 4 cups water
- 1 vanilla bean split down the middle
- 5 cups sugar
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- Combine berries, water and vanilla bean in a large saucepan.
- Bring mixture to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until berries are soft and pale.
- Pour the contents of the saucepan through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl. Allow the berries to drip for 30 minutes but do not press on them. (Pressing on the berries will make the syrup cloudy.)
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner and four pints jars.
- Discard berries.
- Return juice and vanilla bean to the saucepan.
- Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for five minutes. Skim off any foam that accumulates.
- Ladle the syrup into warm jars leaving ½ inch headspace. Discard vanilla bean.
- Bubble the jars and wipe the rims.
- Place lids on jars and tighten rings just until you feel resistance.
- Return jars to the boiling water. Process ten minutes in a boiling water bath.
- Allow to cool in the water five minutes before removing to the counter.
- Check seals and store in a cool, dark place for up to one year.
- Refrigerate any unprocessed jars.