It’s strawberry time, at least in California and other warm places, and — for those of us who live further north — in the produce department. Strawberries are grown near where I live, but our local strawberries don’t travel well and mostly get made into jam and other products rather than sold fresh. People who look down on the big, firm California strawberries can always go out to the farms for some of the small, squishy (but extra sweet) local ones; they’ll just have to wait a while. In this recipe, it doesn’t matter which kind you use, because the very first thing you do (well, after washing, hulling, and slicing them) is grind them into a liquid state.
And that’s because we’re making strawberry syrup. Just like at IHOP — except that this syrup has no artificial ingredients. (It won’t keep for months like commercial syrup, but you’ll probably use it up pretty quickly anyway.) It’s naturally a bright, clear red, and it’s bursting with fresh strawberry flavor.
At our house, strawberries and pancakes go together, at least in spring and early summer — but till now, the strawberries were usually just sliced and piled on top of the pancakes, with or without maple syrup. This gives you both fruit and syrup at once.
It may seen a little thin due to the 1:1 ratio. To make thick syrup, as you’d use for cocktails or soft drinks, you need twice as much sugar as liquid. I thought of using that ratio in order to come up with something thicker and more like maple syrup, but finally decided it was better not to drown the taste of the strawberries in sweetness. You could also add strawberry flavor with sliced berries on top of, or cooked into, your pancakes. No need to limit it to strawberries, either — most fruits would go nicely with this.
- 1 cup sliced strawberries (about 5-6 large berries)
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- In a food processor, blend the strawberry slices and water till smooth (this will give you only a cup of liquid, but that’s okay).
- In a small pot, combine the strawberry mixture and sugar.
- Bring to a boil, whisking occasionally.
- When it’s just beginning to boil, turn the heat to low.
- Let the syrup cook for five minutes, whisking carefully every minute or so.
- Remove from heat and let cool at room temperature.
- Keep refrigerated.