PREP TIME: ABOUT 2 HOURS, PLUS OVERNIGHT FOR JUICE TO SETTLE, PLUS CANNING
MAKES: APPROXIMATELY 4 QUARTS
Berry Juice is thick and delicious. This recipe works well with blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries, blueberries, serviceberries, currants, and other ripe berries, either alone or in combination. Use Berry Juice as a pure juice drink or in a smoothie, as a flavor base for carbonated beverages, as a mixer for alcoholic drinks, as a topping for ice cream or other desserts, as a main ingredient in ices and frozen treats, as a milk substitute with cereal, or as an ingredient in baking recipes (to color icing, for instance). Berry Juice is also a super health drink with cancer-fighting properties as well as vitamin C and various trace elements, dietary fiber, and compounds that boost heart health, all bound up in a gorgeous package. To keep the flavor lively and the color true, add both ascorbic acid and a little sugar during the canning process. Although berries can stain clothes and kitchen towels, they are otherwise easy to work with because of their small size and relatively clean growth habit off the ground.
• 1 flat (12 pints) berries (about 8 pounds), rinsed and picked over
• Filtered water, enough to cover berries
• Ascorbic acid, ¼ teaspoon per quart of juice (for canning)
• Sugar, 2–4 tablespoons per quart of juice (optional, for canning)
Once you have made juice from summer fruits, it only takes a few cups of your bounty to go a new level of enjoyment: fruit and herb syrups. It’s simple to create syrups that burst with taste highlights. In a saucepan, combine 1-2 cups of fruit juice with an equal amount of sugar, add sprigs of your favorite edible herb, and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for 5 minutes, then strain and bottle in a decorative swing-top bottle.
Serving suggestions: glaze for roasted meats or vegetables, cocktail mixer, topping for waffles or pancakes or ice cream, flavoring for smoothie, child’s soft drink.
1 Put the berries into a large nonreactive stockpot, and then add filtered water to barely cover the fruit. Bring the contents to a boil.
2 Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring and mashing the berries as they cook, or use an immersion blender to grind the berries. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking, and skim off any foam.
3 Line a large colander with two layers of cheesecloth dampened with filtered water. Set the colander over a large bowl, making sure that the colander sits well above the bottom of the bowl so that the juice can flow freely.
4 Slowly pour the hot berries into the colander.
5 Leave the juice to strain for at least 1 hour. Do not squeeze or force the berries through the cheesecloth, or the juice will become cloudy.
6 Refrigerate the juice overnight in a clean covered container to let solids settle to the bottom. The juice will clear. For canning, ladle the juice out and discard the solids. This juice can be used immediately or preserved by canning.
Photography © Johnny Autry, used with permiss19ion from Storey Publishing.