Strawberries and black pepper, say what??

Dear friends, family members, strangers near and far, I hate to do this to you, but you HAVE got make this!

homemade strawberry syrup

I am not even kidding. If I were picking recipes to make before I die and put them on a gigantic Recipe Bucket List, this would be on there. So, there is no call to action, or trending keywords, or prescribed amount of characters to make my blog stand out today. So many things to try and keep track of; social media scheduling, pinning, tweeting and on and on. And if you’re a blogger, you know what I mean. But today, I’m writing and sharing this with you for the sheer pleasure of it.

I came upon this amazing book, Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon, a few months ago at the library. I started taking pictures of the pages of all these amazing recipes so I could go home and make them. I ended up realizing how foolish that was and purchased it on Amazon instead. It really resonates with my inner homesteader. I mean, she creates everything from homemade ice cream cones (like the actual cone!) to curing pastrami and homemade corn tortillas.
This recipe has been calling my name ever since I bought the book. So now that strawberries are so plentiful, I bought 4 lbs over the weekend, although this recipe only calls for 2 lbs, and started in on the recipe.

fresh strawberries

strawberries, freshly hulled

I made a beautiful, homemade strawberry syrup before, (you can see the original recipe here, Homemade strawberry syrup ) so I’m familiar with making syrup. However, what I have never done before was macerate berries with sugar, letting them soak up the sugar until the liquid has come out of the fruit. No cooking involved!
I might have a done a teeny thing wrong, not sure what exactly, but my berries certainly lost the liquid and it became a gorgeous thick, red syrup without cooking it. However, I also had some sugar that pooled up at the bottom and she says that you should stir until the sugar dissolves. Oh well. I guess I didn’t stir enough. Ok, so back to the process.

Strawberry Black Pepper Syrup and Soda

2 lbs organic strawberries, de-stemmed, hulled and cut in half
3 1/2 cups sugar
3 tb orange juice (about half an orange)
2 tb black pepper

In a giant bowl, mix the berries with 2 cups of the sugar, coating evenly. Then, cover the top of the berries with the remaining sugar and cover your bowl with a tea towel. Leave on the counter for about 12 hours (stir occasionally to get the sugar to dissolve if you can, but if you leave it overnight, no biggy). The berries will shrink in size and release the juice. After about 12 hours, stir the fruit again, letting as much of the sugar dissolve as possible. Put a sieve or colander with small holes over a bowl and strain out all of the liquid. You don’t need to squish the berries, just let them drain as much as possible. Put the berries aside. Add the orange juice and pepper into the bowl with the liquid and mix. Pour into a nice jar and let sit in the refrigerator for 5-6 days. It will keep up to a month.

freshly ground pepper added to syrup

adding freshly ground black pepper

To make the soda, just add a few tablespoons to carbonated seltzer or soda water. This is the amazing part. Good lord, I feel like I’m either watching the line to get in the hippest restaurant in NYC or on my beach towel in sizzling Miami Beach; either way, it’s an experience you’ll never forget. This syrup is just dying to spice up either a non-alcoholic “Italian-esque” soda or be the star at your next adult party. I’m thinking vodka, although maybe a light rum would work. 😉

Kathleen Bandaruk drinking a homemade soda

Enjoying a beautiful seltzer water with my homemade syrup

Ok, next up, because I have not delved into making jams and tried canning yet (although as a homesteader, it has to be on my agenda sooner or later) I need to figure out what to do with the berries! So far, I threw them in my Bullet (you can put them in a food processor, too) and came out with this gorgeous, dreamy and unbelievably delicious strawberry puree. Thoughts? Comments? Ideas for me? I’d love to hear them!

macerated strawberries

the “leftovers”…great on ice cream or??

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