Working with fruit from our farm naturally led to making fruit preserves, but there comes a time when the mind seems to always say “OK, what’s next?” I looked at fruit based pancake syrups, but not being a big breakfast person, this idea was quickly discarded. Beverages! Now there was something I enjoyed on a daily basis (water), and also during celebrations (cocktails). I also wanted to try and get my daughter off of her diet soda habit, so I started experimenting with “beverage syrups”. Like jellies without the “gel”.
Beverage syrups (that is, natural fruit beverage syrups) have a lot going for them actually:
- You don’t need very much to give flavor to a drink, so you can keep the calorie content low. You have the option of flavoring your drink to your own standard of taste and calorie content, unlike sodas or flavored waters you buy already prepared;
- The fruit is “real” fresh fruit (not flavoring), and you don’t need to boil it for very long, so the beneficial nutrients are not boiled out of it;
- They keep in the refrigerator for 2 months and you add the carbonation fresh each time you use them, so you don’t have to worry about your drink being “flat”;
- Herbs and spices are easy to infuse into the syrups while being made, so you can get some very creative, unique flavors;
- There is a lot of versatility in using them, from water, to sodastream carbonated waters, to lemonade, to tea, to smoothies, to cocktails. They can also be drizzled over fruit salads, combined with vinegar for Shrubs, used as a glazed over grilled meats, and combined with oil and vinegar for salad dressings.
Here are some of the ways we have used the syrups lately:
In celebration of “Getting Ready to go to Spain” we combined a little Strawberry Orange Cardamom Syrup with some Champagne. Hey, you can always come up with a celebration if you loosen up your idea of what defines a celebration, eh?
Recipe: Just combine a couple of tablespoons of syrup with cold Prosecco, Champagne or Cava and stir.
Blueberry-Pomegranate Smoothies for lunch during this warm spring in March. Basic recipe is to add following ingredients in a blender and blend:
- a frozen banana (fresh if you don’t have frozen)
- about 3 Tbsp. Blueberry-Pomegranate Syrup
- vanilla yogurt (can be frozen yogurt if you don’t mind the calories); amount you add depends on how thick you like your smoothies. I add about a cup
- non-fat milk
- frozen blueberries (about 1/2 cup)
The drink in this photo is lemonade in a pint jar with a couple of tablespoons of Ginger Lime Syrup stirred in. The water pitcher with fruit in it is something we’re trying to keep filled up and visible so that we are tempted to drink more water. It’s always much easier to go to water instead of soda if it is on your counter looking beautiful and refreshing (and easy). Sometimes we might add a syrup to the water, and sometimes not. I am anxious to see if this addition to our kitchen will lead my daughter to pouring a glass of water rather than opening a diet soda.
I got this SodaStream Genesis Sparkling Water & Soda Maker last summer when I was getting into making the syrups. I love it! You just fill the gray liter bottle with water, screw it into the white attachment, pump the top five times, and Voila, you have sparkling water to keep in your fridge and use until you need to fill it with water and repeat. It’s a perfect foil for the syrups. Caveat: the syrup packages that come with it do not taste very good and they do have various preservatives in them.
These are just some ideas on how I personally like to use the syrups. I know there are a lot of mixologists that are using syrups in all kinds of fancy cocktails. Some sleuthing on google will lead you to a lot of different recipes for using the syrups. I hope to experiment more with fruit vinegar shrubs this summer, but for now my Soda Stream is my go-to drink maker.