Tasmanian Cherries and Berries – and Mulberry Syrup

What an abundance we have by way of Tasmanian summer fruits!  During the last two weeks we have picked Morello cherries, delicious preserved for later use in Black Forest Cake and as a topping or filling for tarts.  They also make an exquisite cherry cordial syrup.  You can of course make cherry syrup from sweet varieties of cherries, but I like a cordial with a zing which makes the Morello cherry ideal for this application.  Picking them is always a delight from the four smallish but very heavily laden trees in Chris Wisbey’s orchard, chatting as we pick in the warm summer sun.

We’ve since been given red cherry plums that also make excellent cordial.  I have used them on occasion as a base for Worcestershire sauce, which was very acceptable.  They make quite good jam too, though I do prefer the yellow cherry plums for the purpose.  I have tried making jam with them but it didn’t set very well, which is how I came to know that they make a good syrup that serves as a cordial or to pour, coulis style, over ice cream, panna cotta or even pavlova.  It also makes an excellent flavouring if included in yoghurt or ice cream.  They too can be preserved by the Fowlers method, though I have found that the skins always remain bitter, even if a heavy syrup is used and no matter how long they are stored.

Again this year my friend Amanda invited us to come to pick mulberries from their huge tree on their property at Murdunna.  I have never seen a mulberry tree bigger – it is reportedly over a hundred years old.  A dam on the bank  just above the tree ensures a good crop, the mulberries unfailingly bursting with flavour.  Mulberries make a nice jam – sometimes people combine them with apples to increase the pectin level to ensure a good set.  However, I prefer again to make a cordial syrup.  Within an hour or so of arriving home after picking last Sunday, dozens of bottles of the cordial were lined up on the bench, very reassuring as just we recently finished the last bottle made from last year’s picking.

It seemss to be the year of the berry here in Tasmania – even our own garden is yielding many more than we can possibly eat.  This is unusual as we live on the edge of the forest (shady) and by the ocean (cool sea breezes).  Is it possible to get sick of summer pudding?  I am beginning to wonder as we have had the luxury of so many this season.   I have taken it off the family menu for a time before we really do tire of it, instead freezing the youngberries, boysenberries, raspberries and strawberries as they pile in from their bushes.  They will be a real treat during the winter months when I’ll be able to make all sorts of warming winter berry puddings.

It appears from this that I have a strong leaning towards making fruit syrups and indeed this is the case.  They taste so good and are free of artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives.  For parents whose children are affected by such artificial additives, it is well worth the minimal effort of making the syrup.  But of course anyone could and should make them – you will be amazed at how the flavours of the fruit are captured in the bottle.

So here is a recipe for the mulberry version of the cordial.  You can substitute other berries or a mix of different types of berry, even including some of the weight in sweet cherries.  The Morello cherries can be substituted for the entire weight of mulberries.

Mulberry Syrup

1kg mulberries

4 cups water

Sugar

2 level teaspoons tartaric acid*

Place the berries and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.  Simmer very gently for 10 minutes.  Strain through a colander, pressing down to extract maximum juice, and then the  resulting liquid through a fine kitchen sieve.

For each cup of the resulting liquid add 1 cup of sugar.  Bring to the boil, then reduce heat immediately to a bare simmer and cook 2 minutes more.  Stir in tartaric acid, pour into sterilised bottles and seal immediately.

The cordial will keep at room temperature but in warm weather or climates it would be best to keep it in the fridge.  In either case, refrigerate the bottle once it is opened.

* Tartaric acid is a white crystalline organic acid that occurs naturally in many plants.   It can be purchased at supermarkets where it is generally found near the baking powder.

 

12 thoughts on “Tasmanian Cherries and Berries – and Mulberry Syrup

  1. beccy says:

    Hello Sally
    reading about rasberries brings back (very) old memories of a Cornish lady deeply committed to entering the results of her kitchen magic into local shows, the highlight being the annual Truro fatstock show. Once, when I was attemting to bottle some fruit, I sought her advice, from the depths of her pantry she pulled out a Kilner jar of old and faded fruit. Despite its age, the jar was filled with beautifully layered raspberries, to make it even more of a show stopper, the hulled portion of each berry faced outwards and was filled with a redcurrant, just to make it look beautiful. Needless to say, this work of art won an award.
    Can’t wait to make the rhubard drink, surely it can’t be that easy!
    Beccy

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    • Sally Wise says:

      Isn’ t that wonderful! I read in an old, old Fowlers book the method for doing just that – the centre of each raspberry being filled with a redcurrant. What a work of art – berries can tend to lose shape as they are preserved so the redcurrant helps to give the absolute best end result. Even so, she must have been a true artist as the temperature would have to be held just right to keep the berries intact, no mean feat with an old stove top preserver which she most likely used. No wonder she won an award!

      Sally

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  2. Sally Wise says:

    Isn’ t that wonderful! I read in an old, old Fowlers book the method for doing just that – the centre of each raspberry being filled with a redcurrant. What a work of art – berries can tend to lose shape as they are preserved so the redcurrant helps to give the absolute best end result. Even so, she must have been a true artist as the temperature would have to be held just right to keep the berries intact, no mean feat with an old stove top preserver which she most likely used. No wonder she won an award!

    Sally

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  3. Julie says:

    hi sally
    i am just wondering if you can preserve fruits to make icecream toppings.
    i have all your preserving books and am currently reading ‘a year on the farm’
    i plan on heading your way next year, just to come to one of your preserving classes.
    i live in perth wa. you are a very inspiring lady. thank you

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    • Sally Wise says:

      You surely can – just use the blackcurrant cordial or raspberry cordial recipes from the book – they make perfect ice cream toppings. So delicious. Look forward to seeing you.

      Sally

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      • Julie says:

        Hi Sally
        I have checked the raspberry cordial recipe, but it states that it must be stored in the fridge.

        I am hoping to store the toppings in a dark place until required. Then place in fridge after opening.

        Are these cordial recipes, or should I use the conserve recipes with more moisture

        Thanks

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      • Sally Wise says:

        Hi Julie – use the recipe on page 115 for berry or blackcurrant cordial syrup. This can be kept just in a cool, dry, dark place. The reason is that it contains citric acid and vinegar (both are natural products as you would know). These increase acidity and hence keep ability. It is only once a bottle is opened that it needs to be refrigerated.

        Regards
        Sally

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  4. Yvonne James says:

    Why are either tartaric or citric acid used in making cordials? I don’t really like the taste of them as I find it very acidic. Would lemon juice do instead?

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    • Sally Wise says:

      Yes, you could use lemon juice – one teaspoon of citric or tartaric acid equals two tablespoons lemon juice. The cordial may not keep quite so well, as lemons do vary in acidity. You can use vinegar instead if you prefer – for a batch of cordial that uses 3kg fruit, then use 250ml vinegar, added at the end. Cider vinegar would be best. However, the potential disadvantage is that the vinegar taste tends to increase during storage and some children then won’t drink it. Hope this helps. Sally

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  5. Josie says:

    Hi Sally
    We are about to make blackcurrant cordial from frozen currants which still have leaf etc among them. Do we need to rinse them first or like red currant jelly we need not bother?
    We have an old recipe using vinegar while your recipe in ‘A year in a bottle’ uses tartaric. Any advantages/preferences for either?
    Josie

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    • Sally Wise says:

      Hi Josie – you could give them a rinse if there is any doubt about there being any dirt etc in there, otherwise I wouldn’t bother. I use tartaric acid (or citric will do) as some children don’t like the taste of the vinegar which does seem to increase over time. Vinegar is fine though – sometimes I use a mixture – 2 teaspoons of citric or tartaric acid with 90ml of cider vinegar to a 3kg (of blackcurrants) batch.

      Regards
      Sally

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