Nice, huh? Man, my photog skillz have sunk just a notch below my menacing embroidery skillz, which are just trailing below my blog posting consistency…skillz.
Ok – so if you ignore the photo that I put there for you to look at and you skip right to this part RIGHT HERE – you will find out that I made something really freaking cool.
So last year around mulled wine times (aka xmas), I was making tons of mulled wine with the blackberry wine I had made and documented here. Somehow I got this idea that mulled wine jelly would be really good and I got all obsessed with looking it up and I think I might have even found some kind of recipe, but then promptly forgot all about it. Fast forward to the day before yesterday. I was in my kitchen telling my sister about this fermented syrup that I was about to make – and that I made it last year (I guess I didn’t post the recipe then – so today’s your lucky day!!) and suddenly I remembered my whole plan of mulled wine jelly and…well, you’re about to find out what.
See, I made regular blackberry syrup last year, but then I took the pulpy seeds from the blackberry juice I made in that post and I fermented them with some yeast for a few days and made a syrup with the resulting juice. It’s really cool cause both syrups are made with blackberries – but they taste totally different. I got the recipe from a really cool book The Good Stuff Cookbook by Helen Witty – which I highly recommend, btw. There are a couple recipes in there that follow the same technique of fermenting fruit, then adding sugar and making a syrup – and I only generally followed the recipes – so I will just go ahead and post mine. If you are rabid for the real deal then let me know and I’ll see what I can do.
So, as per usual, this is going to be more of an instructional paragraph, than a real recipe.
Here’s what went on…
I picked blackberries in a very nonchalant way (meaning I didn’t wade through the bushes and hack away at them and bloody my hands and cry into my canner like last year) every few days and froze them until I had two gallon ziplock bags full. I took all those berries and put them in a pot and just barely covered them with water and boiled for a while.
I then put them through a food mill and used the pulpy juice for some very outstanding, virtually seedless, blackberry jam (around 9 pints maybe?) and took the resulting pulpy seeds and threw them in a bowl with some plain old bread yeast and about 2 cups of water.
The recipe in the book says to a) ferment for 3 days, but also to b) make the syrup when fermentation stops. Well, it’s cold here and I was busy, so I let the fermentation go on for a week – and it was still bubbling when I strained it. You need to stir it at least once a day to make sure no mold forms on the top.
I added 2 more cups of water and mushed it all around with my hand for a while to kinda loosen the pulpy stuff from the seeds. I don’t know if this is necessary since you do strain it – but it just seemed like the right thing to do.
Then you strain it. I used a tea towel (you should use one you don’t care about) in a spaghetti strainer. It sat there most of the day, then i pulled up all the sides and twisted the top closed and squeezed and massaged and squeezed and massaged till I didn’t feel like doing that anymore. I wound up with 4 cups juice and I added a cup of water cause it was kinda thick (this is your call – you could probably add more if you want). The whole time I was thinking “MAN this smells like wine” – cause you know what? It was. It will be kinda milky – that’s the fermentation stuffs.
So then I put it all in a pot and added 5 cups of sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks, 10 cloves, 10 allspice berries, 10 cardamom pods and 2 limes, sliced. I boiled it for maybe 15 minutes (I like my syrups for beverages thin – and I cook them longer if I’m gonna use it for pancakes or something) and put it in some clean jars that had been in the oven at 200 degrees. I did not water bath can them, cause I don’t do that with syrups or jellys or jams or preserves. If you have any questions, do not ask the government. Ask someone you trust, like me. Heh. But seriously, do the water bath canner thing if you want. It’s also your call.
Anywho…that’s it. It’s really freaking good too. It totally tastes like mulled wine and what I used made almost 4 pints.
Someday I will make the jelly, but for now this is perfect.
So, the moral to this recipe-tale is this….take all that pulpy berry crap that you’re about to throw away and make it into syrup y’all! You can do it with any berry. I’ve made blackberry, marionberry, blueberry, and the cookbook I mentioned uses raspberries and hucklberries. I’d like to try another fruit sometime – but berries really have a lot of pulpy waste that makes the self-sufficient, homesteady, waste-not-want-not, penny-pinching types cringe.