One of my favorite ways to use up fruit that’s just this side of the compost bin is in simple syrups. Even strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches (or just about anything else) that aren’t quite good to eat fresh and raw any more, will lend their flavor to a simple syrup — and from there cocktails, lemonade, popsicles, ice cream, or trifles.
Simple syrup is, really, crazy simple:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- assorted fruits or herbs
Bring everything together to a boil in a saucepan and then let cool. I like to leave the fruit in until I’m ready to use the syrup, to lend it even more flavor.
This strawberry version is excellent in my favorite fresh strawberry margaritas (which I will probably make tonight) and in the best darn strawberry lemonade you’ll ever drink.
Here is the secret to perfect homemade lemonade: don’t add water.
Pour equal parts strawberry simple syrup and lemon juice (fresh is amazing; bottled is just fine) into a big pitcher and stir. Fill glasses with ice. Pour lemonade into glasses.
The ice melting is the perfect amount of “dilution” for the lemonade, and it never gets too watery — even at the bottom of the glass.
A third, most excellent use for this is in trifle. Cube up a pound cake, or angel food cake if you’re feeling virtuous. Whip a lot of cream; sweeten it if you like, or don’t. Wash and slice up a bunch of perfect berries. Then put a layer of cake in a bowl or pretty trifle dish, if you have one, and sprinkle liberally with strawberry simple syrup. Follow with a layer of berries and a layer of cream and repeat ad nauseum until you run out of bowl. You can also use pudding in place of the whipped cream, but do the homemade stuff, yeah?
It also wouldn’t go amiss on this lovely fruit salad in place of the lemon balm syrup.
And it keeps those strawberries (or other fruit) out of the trash or the compost bin. Score one for us against food waste and for deliciousness.