Friday, 12 July 2013

Saft (Berry Cordial)

Saft is the Swedish name for this fruit syrup, but versions are made all through Scandinavia. It's basically a sweetened fruit syrup used as a drink, hot or cold. Currants are not always used, but I think they are ideal to add that tart tangy flavour and make a really refreshing drink. You can use all currants if you like, of mixed colours or just one. I used half red currants plus black currants, the last of our strawberries and some cherries in this batch.

Actually the English drink this too; see Ribena. Unless you put in waaaaay more sugar than I'm calling for here, yours will be nowhere near as sweet though. You may wish to put in a little more sugar than I call for, depending on the tartness of your berries and your taste, but start with this amount and taste it first! More can always be added, even as late as when the syrup is being put in the glass, but once it's in it can't come out!

If you don't wish to process the saft for storage, it can be frozen. I'd let it cool completely, pour it into clean glass jars beng careful to leave plenty of room at the top, and freeze them with the lids off. Once it is frozen solid, the lids can be put on, and the saft kept until you wish to unthaw it and use it. In either case, once opened it should be stored in the refrigerator. It's important to leave the lids off at first as the syrup will expand quite a lot as it freezes, and if the lids are on the glass may break. For me though, freezer space is at a premium and shelf-stable canning is the way to go.

30 minutes for preliminary cooking
2 hours to overnight to strain
1 hour to can (20 minutes plus cooling time if freezing)
about 5 x 500ml jars

Saft or Berry Cordial

4 cups mixed berries; strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and/or cherries
4 cups currants; black, red or white
2 cups water
2 cups sugar, or a bit more

Pick any large leaves or other debris from the berries, and pick them over for bad ones. Rinse them well. Put the water into a canning kettle or other very large pot to boil, and add the drained berries when it boils. Simmer them gently for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn them into a cloth - over another large pot - to strain. You are unlikely to find a jelly bag large enough to cope with this quantity of fruit; I use a clean old cotton pillowcase which has moved on to a second career. (Not appearing soon on any beds near you.) You can strain this for several hours, although I put it in our cool, dry basement and left it to strain overnight.

Put the jars into a canner with boiling water to cover them, and bring them to a boil. 

Meanwhile, squeeze out the pulp through the cloth as much as you like - the harder you squeeze the cloudier the syrup will be but personally I don't care - fruit is expensive enough in both time and money that I want every drop I can extract. Return it to the (cleaned) canning kettle. You can measure it first if you like; it will give you some idea whether you have the right quantity of jars.

When the jars in the canner come to a boil, set the time to boil them for 10 minutes. Add the sugar to the fruit juice and bring to a boil. Put the lids and rims into another pot and bring them to a boil. (Turn off the heat when they have boiled for 1 minute).

Lift and empty the jars, place them on a board or other heatproof surface, and fill the jars with the syrup. Wipe the rims with a bit of paper towel dipped in the boiling water and top them with the prepared lids and rings. Return them to the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove, let cool, label and store.

To use, dilute one part saft with 4 parts plain or sparkling water, or to taste. Also good with white wine, sparkling apple juice, and in hot tea or punch.

Last year at this time I made Batter-Fried Zucchini.

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