Fresh, seasonal fruit can be preserved by converting it into fruit syrups that can be stored and used at a later date. My grandmother would do this all the time and showed my siblings and I how to do it as well.
What follows are instructions on how to make your own fresh fruit syrups and thereby preserve the flavor of the season year round.
Prepping the Fruit
Before attempting to make your own fruit syrups you will need to sort through the fruit to remove and discard any stems and rotted pieces.
Afterward, wash and thoroughly dry the fruit. Next take out a heavy bottomed saucepan and place the fruit in it.
It is imperative to note here that unless you are working with blackberries, there is generally no need to add water in with the fruit. This is because most other fruits have enough natural juices within them to complete the next portion of the fruit syrup making process.
On the off chance that you are working with blackberries, add one cup of water to the saucepan for every six pounds of fruit.
Boiling and Straining
Once the fruit is in the saucepan, use a wooden spoon to crush the fruit as much as possible. Then place the saucepan over a medium flame and bring the fruit to a boil.
Let the fruit boil for no more than a minute. Afterward, remove the saucepan from the flame and set it aside while you scald a jelly bag.
Place the scaled jelly bag over a bowl and strain the fruit through it. The optimal situation is to leave the fruit sitting in the strainer overnight to thoroughly drain.
In the morning press any remaining pulp into the jelly bag to extract any residual juices. Proceed by taking the extracted fruit juice and measuring it to see how much juice your previous efforts yielded.
Remembering exactly how much juice you have, pour the juice back into a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Next you will be adding two cups of sugar into the saucepan for every 2 ½ cups of juice.
Proceed by placing the saucepan over a low flame, stirring continuously until the sugar has completely dissolved into the juice. Once the sugar has been dissolved, remove the saucepan from the flame and set it aside.
Take out a deep mixing bowl and some cheesecloth. Secure several layers of cheesecloth over the top of the bowl with either a large, rubber band or butcher’s string.
Once the cheesecloth layers have been secured, pour the contents of the saucepan over it.
Bottling and Sterilization
Next, remove and discard the used cheesecloth. Set the fruit syrup aside and proceed to sterilize several glass bottles or jars to store the syrup in.
Sterilization is done by boiling the bottles including the lids for a full fifteen minutes.
Once the desired containers are sterilized, use a funnel to pour the fruit syrup from the bowl into them.
Be sure not to overfill the containers. Allow approximately 1 ½ inches of empty space between the syrup and the top of the container used.
Afterward, seal the containers tightly and place them onto either a metal rack or trivet that can fit inside a large saucepan.
The saucepan must be large enough to comfortably hold the containers, trivet and enough water to properly immerse the said items. It is imperative that the bottles sit deep enough in the water to cover all of it except for inch down from the lid.
The sealed bottles should be boiled in water that has reached 170 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30 minutes. The water should then subsequently be brought down to a simmer. Allow the bottles to simmer for another 20 minutes.
When the simmering is complete the bottles can be removed from the water and left to cool. Once cooled the fruit syrup can be stored for later use.
Sealing the Corks
If corks are being used to seal the bottles there is an additional step needed in the bottling process. Once the corks are completely dry they should be sealed with melted paraffin wax.
Remember that the fruit syrup is highly concentrated so it is generally best to dilute it before serving. Depending on individual tastes the fruit syrup is usually diluted by adding five parts water to very one part fruit syrup.