Strawberry Black Pepper Syrup and Soda Recipe
In a giant mixing bowl, combine the berries with 2 cups of the sugar, being sure to coat each berry in sugar completely. Cover the top of the berries in a blanket of the remaining 11/2 cups sugar. Let the berries macerate for 12 hours, stirring occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. (Setting this up after dinner and stirring periodically before bedtime is sufficient.) The berries will shrink in size and release their juice and the sugar will dissolve in the liquid. If necessary, cover the bowl loosely with a kitchen towel tied with string to protect the sweet syrup from insects.
After maceration, stir again to dissolve as much sugar as possible from the bottom of the bowl. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl and drain the syrup into it, stirring the fruit (but not pressing on it) to release as much liquid as possible. Reserve the fruit for another use (like jam or pie filling) and taste your syrup. Heaven.
Plus: strawberry black pepper soda (two ways) Instructions: Stir 3/4 cup Strawberry Black Pepper Syrup into 11/2 cups sparkling water (or any quantity in a ratio of 1:2). Add ice cubes and enjoy. Shot of gin optional. To make carbonated soda, see How to Carbonate It, opposite page. Drink within 3 days. Note that soda left for longer than that, even at cold temperatures, is in danger of becoming explosively overcarbonated.
How to carbonate it: In a clean glass bottle of any size with a tight-fitting lid, combine syrup and tap water in a ratio of 1:2— for example, a 750 ml bottle can hold a little more than 24 ounces, which means 8 ounces of syrup and 16 ounces of water. Add to the mix a scant pinch of active dry yeast, cap tightly, and shake well to combine. Label and date the bottle. Allow it to get gassy at room temperature for 1 to 3 days until carbonated. The best way to test for carbonation is to create one small “testing” bottle of soda that should be checked daily for proper carbonation. To do so, decant 1 to 2 ounces of your soda into a separate bottle, rescrewing the cap tightly after each check. Once the soda has achieved the right level of bubbles, move the bottle to the refrigerator and let the soda chill.