I have a very productive patch of raspberries in my front yard and the solitary act of picking them has become a peaceful ritual of seasonal meditation for me. The late summer months of daily raspberry picking from my garden and filling container after container with them are long over by now. My freezer has been overflowing with berries needing to be turned into pretty little clear red jars of jelly.
This is the time of year I've waited for when days grow cold enough to thaw my berries for jelly-making. The kitchen warms up with a big kettle of juice boiling into jelly. Now I can make room in the freezer for Christmas cookies. I typically get around eight pounds of raspberries each summer from my garden. Jelly is a special treat, I figure, so I make it for gifts as well as for myself.Every year in the past I’ve finished the job of making juice for the jelly and then felt a sense of wastefulness in throwing out the leftover drained fruit. After all, it's just smashed raspberries and surely should be useable for something, I've thought many times as I’ve reluctantly carried the heavy little ball out to my dumpster. I've had this vague idea that somehow, I could get enough reconstituted juice out of this big wad of smashed berries to make into pancake syrup. Try as I may though I couldn't find any recipes for such an idea, so I got brave this year and made my own. My whole house was toasty-warm by the time I finished this tasty syrup.
Get an Additional Last Bit of Liquid from the Berries
To begin with, use thawed berries that have hung from a cheesecloth bag for making jelly juice. To find such a bag visit https://www.target.com/p/natural-home-cheesecloth. The freezing process seems to loosen up the fiber and release more juice than can be gotten from using fresh berries. After collecting the juice for the jelly, you'll have a ball of condensed fruit in your cheesecloth bag. If you've begun with six pounds of uncooked raspberries, you'll probably have around 3-1/2 pounds of fruit left over. You will be making enough liquid for three batches of syrup. If you have three shallow, straight-sided pans that are at least 12” wide you can do this all at once on three burners, but don’t try putting everything in one big, deep pot or the liquid will be too deep to reduce properly. This recipe depends on a ratio of air to liquid that allows for rapid reduction.
Directions for Reconstituting Drained, Squeezed Berries
1. Using 3 ½ pounds of drained raspberries, leave it in the cheesecloth bag and set it in a heavy 5-gallon stock pot or any large metal pot you have. The sides of the pot need to be high enough to suspend the bag from for draining liquid again
2. Heat two quarts of water (8 cups) to a boiling point.My electric tea kettle is the perfect size for this.
3. Pour the boiling water over the bag while holding up the drawstrings of the cheesecloth bag, to keep the fruit from escaping the bag.
4. Agitate the bag to loosen up the moisture in the condensed fruit and allow it to absorb the water. Do this with a long-handled metal spoon in one hand, spreading it as much as possible around the pot while keeping the raspberries inside the bag by holding onto the drawstrings of the bag with the other hand.
5. Suspend the bag inside the pot and allow to drip for four hours.I used a very big pressure cooker with a lid that was heavy enough to hold the end of the bag in place suspended over the side of it. Mine looks a lot like this one, only it’s about 70 years older.
6. Squeeze the bag to remove as much liquid as possible.You will have a liquid that is pale red-colored and tastes diluted.
7. Remove the bag and discard the leftover fruit.
Recipe for Raspberry Syrup
Yield: makes 4 to 5 pints total. Making a 3-cup juice recipe three times.
- 3 cups diluted juice from raspberries drained for jelly
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1. Combine cornstarch with sugar.
2. Combine all ingredients in a fairly big electric frying pan and stir to dissolve the sugar into the liquid.
3. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring with a flat-ended metal spatula.
This will reduce the juice with rapid evaporation from the wide surface of the big electric frying pan. It will turn from pale to the deep, lovely red color of raspberries. Using a frying pan that is no less than 12 " wide and no more than 2” deep will keep the reduction process quick, preventing the diluted fruit juice from cooking to a fare-thee-well beyond a fresh flavor. My pan is similar to this one.
In 15 minutes, you should have syrup. The taste should be as fresh as a dab of new raspberry jam. Repeat this process three times to use all f the diluted juice. This syrup can be water-bath processed in jars if preferred. Bottle and eat on pancakes, waffles, French toast, and/or ice cream. You should get around four or five each, pint jars of syrup.
Photo by Steve Nebel
Kristi Nebel is a musician and a local activist in the Tacoma Veterans for Peace chapter. She has done nine tours of the U.K. with her husband, Steve, and plays bass as well as sings original Americana. She has filled her shelves and freezer so far this year with the harvests from nine crops of fruit and vegetables and eats from them every day. Find her at sknebel.com. You can read all of Kristi’s Mother Earth News posts here.<
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.