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Making fruit syrups

As berries and other fruits come into season, preserve the juices as a syrup

Making fruit syrup is simple. It takes very little time, is economical, and gives you a sweet treat. The fruit should be in the best condition possible – not over-ripe and not under-ripe. If you have bad fruit, you'll have bad syrup, too.

Karen Blakeslee is an extension food scientist at Kansas State University. She says the best way to extract juice from fruits is to cook them.

"Put them in a large saucepan, cook them at a low heat just so they have a low simmer to them. You don't need to boil them. Simmer them for a couple of minutes and they'll start softening up," says Blakeslee. "Crush them so you really start to release a lot of the juice, then you take them out and put them through some kind of a strainer."

If you prefer the juice to be clear, put it through another strainer such as several layers of cheesecloth and let it naturally drip out. Homemade fruit syrup is thinner than pancake syrup, so Blakeslee says you'll need to add ingredients to thicken it a bit.

"Most recipes that I've seen it's usually sugar, some of them have corn syrup in them," says Blakeslee. "Not usually a pectin because you don't want it to gel like a jelly does. You're going to cook it a little bit with the sugar, and that's going to let some of the water and the juice evaporate and it'll slightly thicken."

Sometimes lemon juice is added to increase the acidity and brighten the flavor. You can also add a few tablespoons of the pulp back into the syrup if you wish. Pour it into containers and refrigerate.

If you want to keep the syrup for up to a year, can it in jars using a hot water bath method. Be sure to skim any foam off of the top before processing to make sure the jars will seal properly. 

Clemson University offers easy, yummy fruit syrup recipes

Not sure when fruits are at the peak of ripeness? Better Homes and Gardens has some tips

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