Earlier this summer, I got a craving for blueberry syrup. Which is basically mashed up blueberries simmered until really juicy, then the pulp and seeds strained, a sugar syrup added, then water bathed for 10 minutes. Super cinchy to make.
Well, as has been typical for me this year, the local blueberry season came and went, and I found myself without blueberries to make syrup from. But the thought of pancakes drizzled with blueberry syrup this winter just would not go away.
So, when on a day trip with my Mom and DD2 right before taking DD2 up to college, I happened upon several produce vendors selling local-to-them blueberries, I snatched up a 5-pound box. I would have my blueberry syrup after all!
All I needed was a day without little ones underfoot so I could do all that boiling. . . The challenges of living with someone else's children (aka the grandkids) tend to pop up unexpectedly these days.
Finally the opportunity presented itself and I measured out 2 quarts of blueberries. Washed, drained, and mashed them. Added a little lemon zest and a couple cups of water, then brought them to a boil and simmered for five minutes.
Meanwhile, I heated a solution of 3 cups of sugar dissolved in 4 cups of water to 260 degrees, as per the instructions in my Ball Blue Book (disclaimer, link takes you to newest edition, which I do not have and cannot guarantee contains the same recipe as my 1992 edition). Heating sugar solution to that temperature takes a while, so I had time to strain my blueberry juice from the pulp while that was heating.
I started this process with a piece of muslin twist-tied to the legs of the stand for my canning strainer, but the juice didn't want to come out very fast. I tried pressing down on it, but then some of the fabric slipped, leaving an opening near the top where the pulp wanted to fall out.
So I got the great idea to use a fine sieve instead. I pulled one out of the cabinet under where I was working, lifted off the strainer, and situated the sieve over the pot. Then I tried to remove the muslin full of juice and pulp. . .
Let's just say that didn't go so well. I ended up scraping about a cup of deep purple pulp off my butcher block counter top when the muslin gaped open. . . Now my butcher block looks like this:
Did I mention that blueberries stain? They stain a lot. Pretty potent dye there.
I figure it will take the sun a couple of months to bleach that out. Perhaps I can finally persuade DH that we do need to sand the butcher block and reseal it; I've been asking him to do that for about three years now.
Anyway, I scraped up the boiling hot pulp and tossed it in the sieve, then proceeded to drain out the juice.
Once my sugar solution hit 260 degrees, I poured in the blueberry juice, heated the whole thing back to a boil, boiled for one minute, then added two tablespoons of lemon juice. Then I ladled the newly made syrup into half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Slapped lids and rings onto the jars. Into the canner they went, and processed for 10 minutes.
Now I have seven half-pints of blueberry syrup for gifting, and for enjoying on my own pancakes and waffles. (And hopefully sometime soon, a sanded and refinished butcher block on my kitchen island.)
9/14/15 Update: When I opened the first jar (so far) of this syrup, it is very thick. Not pourable, but rather spoonable like cooked fruit would be versus running like syrup should be. I'm thinking either a) I had too much pulp (and therefore pectin) in my strained blueberry juice, or b) that 260 degree sugar syrup is the cause of the thickness issue. I wanted to make readers aware of how thick my 'syrup' turned out as a warning in case they run into the same thing by following this recipe.