June 24, 2013

Garden Series Part III: Strawberries

The strawberry plants in my garden this year are the result of one strawberry plant I started late summer 2011.  I am happy to report that I have gleaned at least one quart of berries so far, and I expect that there will be more to come.  Although, it is nearing the end of June and these ever-bearing plants will have to stop producing for now and gear up for another harvest in late summer.

It was difficult for me to come up with a recipe for strawberries.  I have mostly been eating them out of hand and giving them as gifts to friends and family.  On the other hand, I saw some recipes floating around some major food publications for strawberry galettes and shortcakes and even Pickled Strawberry Jam.

Also, my apartment gets up to about a billion degrees when the weather is hot...so a bowl of strawberries left on the counter does not keep well.  I need to use the daily harvests a little more quickly.  Yes, I've learned my lesson and I do have a refrigerator.

Then I remembered a homemade soda workshop that my friend Jaime and I prepared a while back.  We figured out a system of syrup-making to syrup-ize pretty much any appealing kitchen ingredient.  It was a great workshop and I wish you all could have been there, but I can link you to the GoogleDoc, where all this information still lives today.

We spent an afternoon making about 15 different syrup flavors, using herbs, fruits, extracts, and spices.  We poured them each into squeeze bottles and encouraged the workshop participants to mix and match flavors to their hearts' content.  On of my favorites was strawberry-basil.  Please, please, please try this combination and enjoy your homemade sodas all summer long.  Well, at least as long as your syrups last.


  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, halved or quartered
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 cup simple syrup
Stir cut strawberries with tablespoon sugar and let macerate for 20 minutes.  Prepare a cup of simple syrup by combining about 3/4 cup each of sugar and water in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Set aside to cool.

Puree fruit in a blender or food processor, to a rough puree, not a smooth puree.  Run mixture through strainer to remove solids, and stir in simple syrup.  Store in a glass jar.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 fresh basil
Bring sugar and water to a low simmer.  Add the basil and stir, blanching for about a minute.  Turn off heat and allow to steep for three minutes.  Strain into glass jar and allow to cool.  Over-cooking the basil will result in an off-flavor that will dull the fresh taste the syrup should have.

STRAWBERRY BASIL SODA (or Summer in a Glass)

Mix about two or three tablespoons strawberry syrup with one tablespoon basil syrup (below), pour over a glass of ice and top with soda water.  Adding a shot of gin to most homemade sodas is a good thing.

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