Thursday, 1 August 2013

Raspberry Cordial


The raspberry harvest can get a little out of hand at this time of year.  It reaches a point when even friends and neighbours start avoiding you so as not to be pressed into taking yet more raspberries.

In summer, the mid-season crop is juicy and fragrant and there is nothing better than a big bowl of rasps served simply with vanilla ice cream or honey-laced yogurt.  However, the first and last pickings can be either seedy, sharp or weather-ravaged.   This is when you need a few ideas up your sleeve because, unless you freeze them quickly, the delicate berries do not keep well.

Raspberry Cordial
Jam is the obvious choice but if the fruit is excessively seedy, as my first harvest of the year was, for me seedless jam is the only way - more on this, soon.

My second harvest was little better on the seed front, so what to make?  Having recently made Elderflower Cordial, I had a couple of empty bottles, so raspberry cordial seemed like a good idea but how?  At times like these there are three books I reach for, Jane Grigson's Fruit Book; Nigel's Slater's Tender Vol II; and Chez Panisse Fruit by Alice Waters.  It was Alice who came to my rescue with a recipe for 'Raspberry Syrup' - "cordial" seems not to feature in the American vocabulary.

So, now I have a few deep pink bottles of cordial lined up in the larder to bring a touch of summer when the heat is long gone.  You can use this in the same way as Elderflower Cordial, diluting 1:5 with water to make a refreshing raspberryade.  I have an urge to try a little rosewater in the mix too.  Adding a splash of neat Raspberry Cordial to a glass a Prosecco is an excellent idea.  You can also add a tablespoon or two of the cordial to perk up a bowl of less flavoursome raspberries, or spoon a trail through yoghurt or ice cream.  Simply scale this recipe up or down according to how much fruit you have.

So far my summer raspberry harvest stands at almost 6kg and the canes are still fruiting.  Oh, and did I mention, the autumn-fruiting canes are producing already!

Raspberry Cordial

Take 600g of raspberries, place in a saucepan and crush with a potato masher or a fork.  
Add 1 litre of cold water and bring the mixture to the boil.  Skim off any scum then simmer for 15 minutes.  
Remove from the heat and pour the mixture through a non-reactive sieve, pressing on the fruit to extract as much liquid as possible from the pulp.
Measure the hot liquid and pour it back into the pan.  Add two thirds as much sugar to the liquid giving a ratio liquid:sugar of 1.5:1
Return the pan to the heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Bring to the boil and immediately remove from the heat and pour into sterilised glass bottles or jars.

Adapted from Raspberry Syrup recipe in Chez Panisse Fruit by Alice Waters