Blackberry Vanilla Syrup
For reasons I can’t quite identify, I’ve become a little obsessed with fizzy water this summer. In my efforts to drink less beer, it tends to be a better substitute than non-fizzy water. And my fizzy water of choice, Perrier, comes in wonderfully shaped, curvy green bottles that make my packaging-obsessed self happy. I prefer the non-flavored variety, and I often drink it on its own, but sometimes I feel the need for something a little fancier. And with berries and stone fruits galore in season right now, it seemed the ideal time to make some fruit syrups to add to my sparkling beverages.
This blackberry syrup isn’t just good for fizzy water, though. It makes a great topping for ice cream or yogurt, and would be terrific stirred into oatmeal, if I ever felt like eating oatmeal in the summer. Supposedly, it can last for up to six months in the refrigerator, so if I can make it last until the weather cools down, I’ll be able to find out. That’s a pretty big if, though.
Last year, I made a lovely blackberry currant sauce, flavored with creme de cassis, and I was all set to make it again, seeing as it was quite good. But I was lazy and I didn’t want to go to the liquor store. So I rooted around in my spice drawer and cupboards and found some vanilla beans hiding out in the back. I also had some sugar that I’d scented with a vanilla bean a few months ago, and hadn’t really found a good use for. Vanilla makes everything good, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong.
This is really simple and a great way to preserve summer berries. I can never eat them fast enough before they rot. I only made a half batch of this syrup, and I’m definitely planning on doubling the recipe and making more. Ostensibly to give away as gifts, if I can manage not to eat and drink it all before gift giving time rolls around.
Blackberry Vanilla Syrup
I used about 1/2 cup of vanilla sugar and 1/2 cup of regular sugar. If you don’t have vanilla sugar, you might want to use two vanilla beans instead of one. Or you could just go with a more subtle vanilla flavor.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2-3 cups blackberries
- 1 or 2 vanilla beans
- a small squeeze of lemon juice
Stir together the water and sugar in a saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar just dissolves. Add the blackberries to the warm sugar water, and continue to cook.
Meanwhile, cut the vanilla bean open and scrape the seeds into the saucepan. Add the emptied out bean pod as well (just remember to fish it out when you’re done). Let the sugar water blackberry mixture come to a boil and cook it for about 15 or 20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and the berries are just starting to break down.
Let the mixture cool before pouring into jars for storage. Keep the syrup and berries in the refrigerator. It should keep for about six months.
If you want to can the blackberries for non-refrigerated storage, don’t let the liquid cool down. Pack the berries into jars without crushing them, and pour the syrup over, leaving about half an inch of headspace. Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes for pint jars, and 20 for quart jars.
This is a great basic recipe for experimenting with other flavors. Try to substitute the vanilla for perhaps some cardamom or cinnamon. Add more lemon juice to make the syrup more tart. Ginger might also be a great addition. Try it with different berries, or even with peaches or plums (I made a really great peach and rosemary syrup a few weeks ago, which eventually became popsicles, and I really want to make it again). I’m hoping to get to the farmers’ market this weekend to stock up on berries and try several variations to can for winter. Then I can continue to eat fruit all winter and pretend I’m being healthy. What cup of sugar? What? It’s fruit!