Raspberries are probably my favorite fruit; as a kid, I used to walk barefoot in PJs to the berry patch and pick them straight onto my bowl of Cheerios. Strawberries may be a close second. After everyone from my 4-year-old nephew to newlywed friends told me how they gobbled up Chamomile-Scented Strawberry Syrup, which I made using Liana Krissoff’s Canning for a New Generation, I was prepared to put up an even larger batch the next year—only to have the strawberry patch fall short. But raspberries came in with a bumper crop, so I decided to attempt an adaptation. Then while I was prowling online, I found Carey Nershi’s fabulous cocktails at Reclaiming Provincial and knew I needed to start in the oven. The idea of roasting delicate raspberries may seem odd, but that step adds another level of flavor that’s irresistible in syrup, jam, or salad dressing.
Roasted Raspberry Syrup
2 cups sugar, divided
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 sprigs fresh rosemary (about 4 tablespoons fresh leaves)
Place the raspberries in a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and toss with 2/3 cup sugar. (If harvesting took you into the evening, you can let the pan sit overnight in the cold oven to macerate, or start to bring out the juices.) Roast the raspberries at 400°F for about 25 minutes, until they are soft and releasing liquid.
Remove the pan from the oven and mash the berries lightly with a large spoon. Pour the berries and juice through a fine-mesh sieve into a colander, and then stir gently to strain off the juice. Put the pulp into another bowl, line the sieve with a layer of dampened cheesecloth, and re-strain the juice to catch all remaining solids. Add these solids to the pulp and reserve them for another use (see below).
Put the juice in a 2-quart or larger pot; you should have about 2-1/3 cups of liquid. Stir in the remaining 1-1/3 cup sugar and citrus. Strip the rosemary sprigs into a cheesecloth bag or tea infuser, add it to the pot, and bring the juice to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring often and skimming off any foam, for about 20 minutes, until the juice thickens to a syrup. Remove the rosemary.
Ladle into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes, plus your altitude adjustment, or freeze in an ice cube tray or containers. Makes about 2 half-pint jars.
Tips & Tricks
- I don’t advise rinsing the delicate raspberries unless you knocked your container into the dirt while harvesting. If necessary, rinse them at the last minute, just before roasting.
- The double strain is a slick trick that cuts down on the time you wait for everything to separate. Dampening the cheesecloth before you use it saturates the fabric, meaning it will absorb less juice.
- Pressing down the solids while you strain fruits can let starch through and make the juice cloudy, which is a concern if you’re making crystal-clear jelly but less so for a thicker syrup. I take the middle road here, stirring the pulp to maximize the juice but avoiding heavy pressure.
- I love unexpected herbs in sweet treats, and rosemary is a particular favorite for tart fruits like raspberries and rhubarb. But if it’s not for you or not readily at hand (fresh is best), don’t hesitate to play with other flavors, such as mint (as below), basil, or cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.
- Jam foam was a treat when I was a child; my mother would collect it into a small bowl and let us spread it on toast or graham crackers before we’d even finished canning. It tastes like the jam but has a different texture; give it a try before you throw it out.
- This fairly thick syrup is ideal for sourdough pancakes, but you could go Nershi’s route and prepare it for drinks by cutting back the boiling time to as little as 1 minute for your desired thickness.
Twice as Tasty
Krissoff’s strawberry syrup recipe easily leaves you with pulp for making strawberry jam flavored with Thai herbs, lavender, or ground spices, but the high seed content of the raspberry pulp made it less appealing on its own. When I was offered a box of apricots, it seemed like the perfect match. Peaches and raspberries would also make a good flavor combination; The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving combines these two fruits into a tasty-looking pie filling. I haven’t tried it yet, but you could if you win this week’s giveaway.
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
reserved raspberry pulp (about 2-1/4 cups) from Roasted Raspberry Syrup
1 tablespoon mint, minced
Halve and pit the apricots, and then chop them roughly; don’t bother to peel them. Put the apricots, sugar, wine, and lemon juice in a wide, 6- to 8-quart pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, and then simmer about 5 minutes, until the juices just cover the fruit. Pour through a colander into a large bowl, and then stir gently to strain off the juice. Return the juice to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, 5–10 minutes, until the syrup is reduced by about half. Return the apricot solids to the pan, along with the raspberry pulp. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, about 10–15 minutes, until the mixture is very thick and a couple of shades darker. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mint.
Ladle into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes, plus your altitude adjustment. Alternatively, cool and then freeze in half-pint containers. Makes about 6 half-pint jars.
Tips & Tricks
- If your canning kettle holds 7–8 jam jars, as mine does, and you have a canning buddy, you could prepare the jam and syrup at the same time and then process them in one batch.
- To reduce your boiling time, you can set your oven to warm and heat the sugar briefly. A shorter boil means a brighter color and fresher flavor.
- I like the layer of flavor that the herb adds to this recipe, but if you don’t have mint on hand you can substitute another flavor; cinnamon, ginger, or basil would pair well with these fruits.
- Leaving any herb in the jar will allow its flavor to strengthen over time. If you prefer a subtler taste of the mint, particularly for jars that will sit on your shelf for a year or two, leave it on the sprig or tie the whole leaves into a spice bag. Add this to the syrup with the pulp, and then remove the sprig or the bag from the jam before ladling it into jars.