I always get so excited about berry season that I get overly ambitious about buying them. Then I guiltily look at them in the fridge thinking someone should make a smoothie, or ice cream, or a pie, or something out of them before they end up getting tossed. Sometimes I take the stems off, bag them, and get them in the freezer, but this week I decided to take another approach, strawberry simple syrup. It was so easy I can’t believe I didn’t make this sooner, but I tell you what, my summer drinks have just been elevated.
Simple syrup is just that, simple. Traditionally you take equal parts sugar and water, and heat until the sugar is completely melted. That’s it. You can also make a rich syrup that is 2 parts sugar to 1 part water, same method, still easy. If you want to flavor the syrup steep just about anything you can think of in the hot syrup until you get the taste you’re going for.
For this batch I put 1/2 sliced lemon in each quart jar, added enough sliced strawberries to fill it about 3/4 of the way, and topped it with mint. Mint can take center stage very quickly so I put it on top for easy removal after about 20 minutes. Once the syrup was cool, I covered the jars, and put them in the refrigerator overnight with the lemons and strawberries. The next morning I tossed the lemons, but put the soaked strawberries in a smoothie. Being able to get a double use out of the berries made me even happier.
You could make the syrup using just lemons, just herbs, berries, melon, or even spices. Play around with how long you steep your ingredients, and taste frequently so you get just the taste you want. We added the syrup to seltzer water to make drinks for the kids, and added a splash of vodka for the adults. It’s a fun way to extend the life of your summer treasures and a great addition to a summer bbq.