I am by no means a syrup manufacturer. In fact, like many times in my kitchen, I started this process with something else in mind. But it ended up with this sticky, sweet, berry-ful sauce that was delightful on pancakes, and probably delicious on ice cream. (I’ll have to try that today.)
Making strawberry syrup is relatively easy, as long as you have patience. (It’s a 2 day process.) I wanted to make gifts for a baby shower I was hosting, and being that the theme was strawberries it seemed like a perfect fit. Here is a how to guide from beginning to finish.
You will need:
5 pounds of strawberries; rinsed, dried, hulled and halved (at least the large ones)
5 pounds sugar
1/2 tsp salt
zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
large heavy bottomed pot
2 full sized baking sheets (or large platters will do)
12- 8 oz jars with lids and rings, sterilized (I do this in a dishwasher, that’s how I roll.)
material & ribbon for decorating (optional)
Rinsing and drying the berries is a step all on its own. Aren’t fresh strawberries gorgeous? I don’t think they have a bad angle. If you aren’t confident in food photography, take a picture of some strawberries in some natural light; in a bowl, on a plate, on a mound of dirt, you can’t go wrong.
Place strawberries in the pot, making sure bottom is covered,(as much as possible) leaving no room for sugar to seep through. Pour lemon juice and sprinkle zest over berries. Next pour the sugar and salt on top of strawberries. (Sugar reaching the bottom of the pot too soon could burn. So don’t worry about mixing at this point, just let it sit on top.)
On a very low setting let come to a boil, this could take about an hour. Remove foam and give a stir. Allow to simmer on low for 1-2 hours more watching for desired consistency. The longer it simmers, the more the syrup will reduce and thicken.
Carefully pour syrup into baking sheets (or onto large platters). Skim off any foam, making for a more clear syrup. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool overnight. (I suppose you could start the same day after the syrup is cool enough to work with, but I like to break up the process. It also thickens as it cools.)
Ladle the syrup into the sterilized jars. It’s really sticky. Getting it on you will is a lot like Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation, after he cut down the Christmas tree. You will notice you are sticking to things at random times throughout the day. Wipe the rims of the jars with a warm rag, if they have syrup on them. Then put lids and rings on tightly. Place the jars (in batches, 6 jars at a time or so is fine) in a pot of boiling water, making sure they are covered by about 1-2 inches. Just to be safe I had a kettle full of boiling water going, to add water if necessary. Boil 10 minutes (I recommend setting a timer, but I am easily distracted). Using long tongs or actual jar clamps remove to a wired rack covered by a kitchen towel. (At least that’s what I do.) Place the remaining jars into the boiling water and repeat process. The fun part is listening for the little “pops” as the jars seal! (I am easily amused.)
If you don’t hear all of the “pops,” it doesn’t mean the jars are not sealed. The next day I like to push down on the center. If it doesn’t give, it’s sealed! I know people who keep there jars for up to a year. If it does push down and pop back up, put in the fridge and use it first.
To decorate, you can buy pre-cut fabric, or make your own. You want to leave about 1- 1 1/2 inches beyond the edge of the rim. I used a small sauce pan lid to trace circles onto the fabric to match the theme of our occasion. To keep it from sliding off, I use a wide rubber band to hold fabric on the jar in place. Keeping the ribbon on the spool, I tie the ribbon around the jar, complete with bow. Then trim the ribbon. If satisfied, I untie the ribbon and use it as a measure to cut the rest. Tie the ribbon around the fabric on the jar and slide the rubber band down. Repeat until done. Label your jars and voila! You did it!
Now dig in, you deserve it!