So recently I’ve become concerned that I may be reacting to maple syrup. It stands to reason that with the number of types of tree pollen to which I am allergic that the sap of the tree might be an issue as well. I’ve noticed some correlation, but there were other potential issues during the same time frame, so I need to do some food challenges to verify whether it’s truly an issue or not. However, in the meantime, I need some syrupy stuff for waffles while I wait to do a challenge. As some you know, I’ve been canning to beat the band so that I have convenient, shelf stable, safe food and condiments, so I took a look in my canning books to see what I could find.
Now I’m not suggesting that you can this recipe, as I know that that’s a lot of work for most of you, and you might not be into the canning thing. But if you wanted to do that, the recipe is here. I’ve cut this down to a manageable amount for immediate use and made a suggestion for thickening it for a more substantial syrup. The recipe still makes 3 cups of syrup. Since that’s still kind of a lot, you can freeze a portion of it before you thicken it. Be aware that the pictures are some what deceptive because the batch I made was three times this size so that I ended up with 12 half pints of canned blueberry syrup. Also because there’s so much blueberry pulp left, I’ve provided you with some ideas for using it in other recipes at the end of this post. When food is so hard for many of us, we don’t want to waste anything.
Makes about 3-4 cups of syrup.
- 4 cups of blueberries
- 3 cups of water (used divided, as described below)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons of grated lemon zest
- 1 1/2 cups of white cane sugar
- 1 Tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1-2 Tablespoons of arrowroot or tapioca flour (optional)
- 1-2 Tablespoons of water (optional)
- Stainless steel or other non-reactive (ceramic or enamel, do not use aluminum or cast iron) pot
- Potato masher or large spoon
- Strainer or colander
- Cheesecloth (look in grocery stores where the utensils are, or in hardware stores or department stores where the canning stuff is)
- Candy thermometer
Wash your blueberries and pick out any squished or yucky berries or any stems or leaves. You need to crush your berries. Place a thin layer of blueberries in a large stainless steel stockpot (the pot needs to be stainless steel or another non-reactive surface), and mash the berries with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon. Make sure they are all squished. Then add another layer and mash them, repeating until all the berries are mashed to bits.
Once the berries are all mangled, add 1 cup of the water and the lemon zest, and over medium heat, bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Allow the mixture to continue to boil gently for 5 minutes.
Set up your strainer so that it hangs over a deep bowl or other non reactive pot so that the strainer does not rest in the bowl or pot, but so that all of the blueberry mixture will drip into the bowl or pot, without coming out the sides or making a mess. The bowl or the pot should also be deep enough that the strainer will not come into contact with the liquid as it drips out of the strainer. Line the strainer with several layers of dampened cheesecloth. You want several layers so that it prevents any seeds or pulp from dripping into your juice. The reason for dampening your cheesecloth with water is so that the cheesecloth doesn’t absorb as much of your precious juice. Once you’ve got your strainer and the container for the juice to drip into properly situated, add the mixture to the strainer. Let it drip for at least two hours. If you’re a purist and you want a clear syrup, you let it drip undisturbed for at least two hours. If you’re like me, and not a purist, you let it drip for at least two hours and then you use a spatula to get as much of the juice as you can. (Keep the pulp, I’ll talk about what you can do with it later.)
Wash the stainless steel stockpot you used to cook the blueberry mixture, and in the now clean pot, add the sugar and the remaining 2 cups of water.
Over medium high heat, bring the sugar mixture to a boil and cook until it measures 230ºF (you may need to adjust for altitude, we don’t have an altitude issue here). Add your blueberry juice, and increase the heat to high, and bring it to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once your five minutes is up, remove the pot from the heat, and stir in your lemon juice.
At this point, if you’re going to put any of it in the freezer to save for later, pour that amount off into freezer safe and heat safe container and let it cool to room temp before sealing it and putting it in the freezer. If you’re satisfied with the syrup as it is, great, use it for pancakes, waffles, desserts, you name it.
(SAFETY NOTE: You CANNOT thicken the syrup if you are planning to can it, unless you use Clear Gel, which contains corn. No other thickening method is safe for canning, so if you are allergic to corn, just thicken it after you open the jars and when you are planning to use it.)
If you’d like to thicken the syrup, place the syrup back over medium heat. Mix 1 Tablespoon of tapioca or arrowroot with 1 Tablespoon of water to form a paste, and then whisk it slowly into the syrup. Continue to whisk until the paste is well incorporated with the syrup and the tapioca and arrowroot has cooked. If this isn’t sufficiently thick enough for you, repeat the process, until the syrup is the right consistency. Yay! You have blueberry syrup!
Now, let’s chat about that leftover pulp. There are a few ways you could use it:
(1) Put the leftover pulp in your pancake or waffle batter for blueberry overload. Yum!
(2) You can make yourself some blueberry butter/jam. Put the leftover pulp in a sauce pan with a cup of sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice, and bring it to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to medium, and stir frequently until the mixture thickens and holds its shape on a spoon. Store it in the fridge until you want to use it on toast, on ice cream, or just eating it with a spoon, haha!
(3) Make blueberry vinegar. Mix the pulp with 4 cups of white wine vinegar and put it in a glass jar, covering it with cheese cloth or a coffee filter and securing it with a rubber band. Let it sit on your counter top for a week or two, stirring it once a day to prevent any mold. Strain out the blueberry pulp, and you’ll have blueberry flavored vinegar to use for salad dressings or marinades.