It’s Strawberry Season! Time to bring some color to the table – not quite summer but it’s starting to feel that way.
When my wife and I first met, she hosted fairly regular parties at her Brooklyn apartment with her good friend Meena, who was often in charge of the bar area. When I came on the scene, Meena was also a gate keeper, Jane’s loyal, protective friend who could make or break our budding relationship. I had to win her over, and one of the many ways I attempted that was to break out the demo jars from all of my canning and fermentation workshops at parties. The liquid from brandied cherries, pears in syrup, and pickled blueberries, the brine from spicy ramps, pickled peppers, and half-sour cucumbers all made guest appearances at the bar. We totally upped our drinks game and everybody won. Meena was happy with all the new toys she had to play with at the bar, our guests loved the ever-changing cocktails at the party, and Jane and I were approved to continue dating.
You can make a fruit syrup with just about any kind of fruit, but strawberries are one of the jewels of the spring season. A syrup is an easy way to brighten up your day with their sweet flavor and striking color.
Strawberry Vanilla Syrup
Yields approximately 3 pint jars
3 pints strawberries, washed and hulled
¾ cup water
juice of ½ lemon
¾ cup sugar
½ vanilla bean, split & seeds scraped
- Cook the strawberries with the water and lemon juice over medium heat until they are soft.
- Puree the warm berries and strain through a wire mesh strainer to remove the seeds.
- Return the puree to your cleaned pan and add the sugar and vanilla seeds.
- Cook the mixture over medium heat until it is thickened, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
- Fill hot jars with syrup, cool, and store in the refrigerator for up to one month, or prepare canning jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
- To serve, fill a glass with a shot (1 ½ to 2 ounces) of syrup, torn mint leaves and top with seltzer or prosecco. Stir to combine and enjoy!
A version of this column first appeared in Sweet Paul Magazine, Spring 2016.