Country Lore: Good to the Last Drop

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Collect raspberry juice for jelly, and then use the pulp to make syrup.
Photo by Kristi Nebel

Good to the Last Drop

Each year, I’ve felt wasteful when throwing out the leftover drained fruit after making jelly from my raspberry patch. I couldn’t find any syrup recipes for reconstituting juice from a bag of smashed berries, so I developed my own. 

After collecting the juice for jelly, you’ll be left with a ball of condensed fruit in your cheesecloth bag. If you began with 6 pounds of fresh raspberries, you’ll probably end up with about 31/2 pounds of fruit pulp. I always freeze raspberries before making jelly, because doing so seems to release more juice than can be gotten from fresh berries.

Leave the 3-1/2 pounds of drained raspberry pulp in the cheesecloth bag, and set it in a heavy 5-gallon stockpot or any large metal pot. The sides need to be high enough that the bag can eventually be suspended for draining. I use a big pressure cooker with a lid that’s heavy enough to hold the top of the bag and keep it suspended over the draining liquid.

Boil 8 cups of water. While holding up the drawstrings of the cheesecloth bag, pour the boiling water over the bag. Agitate the bag to loosen up the pulp and allow it to absorb the water. Do this with a long-handled metal spoon in one hand, spreading the pulp in the bag around the inside of the pot, but still holding the drawstrings with your other hand.

Suspend the bag from the top of the pot and allow it to drip for 4 hours. Then, squeeze the bag to remove as much liquid as possible. The liquid will be pale red and taste diluted. Discard the leftover fruit pulp. Divide the liquid into three 3-cup batches. You’ll be reducing one batch at a time. Don’t try pouring it all into a single pot, because the liquid will be too deep to reduce properly. This recipe depends on a ratio of air to liquid that allows for rapid reduction.

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups diluted juice from raspberries drained for jelly
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2  teaspoon almond extract

Stir the cornstarch into the sugar. Combine all ingredients in a large electric frying pan that’s no less than 12 inches wide and no more than 2 inches deep. Alternatively, you can use a similarly sized pan on a stovetop. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the juice by simmering for 15 minutes, stirring with a flat-ended metal spatula.

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