It’s been an awfully warm summer so far, which means the hottest accessory in my wardrobe lately seems to be an icy cold beverage. Water is refreshing and all, but sometimes it’s nice to change it up for something a little more flavourful.
Enter homemade soda pop. We rarely buy pop nowadays, seeing as it’s mostly just empty calories with a little artificial flavour thrown in for good measure… but when it gets really muggy outside (as it is wont to do in Toronto in the summertime), a tall glass of something fizzy and sweet is exactly what I’m craving.
The lovely thing about making your own pop is that that the possibilities are only limited by what fruits or herbs you can get your hands on. Once you sort that out, just infuse a simple syrup with the flavours of your choice, then stir into cold soda water for a cool naturally-flavoured refresher.
This time around, what I managed to my hands on is baskets of juicy blackberries from the greengrocer and fragrant lemon verbena leaves from the backyard. It’s a lovely blend of flavours for a hot summer’s day, with sweet fresh blackberries tempered by the lemon verbena, which provides lemony freshness without the acidity or bitterness that can come from real lemons.
Try it with soda water and a splash of lemon juice, add to lemonade to make Blackberry Lemonade, or shake it up with vodka or gin and top up with soda for a more grownup sort of beverage. This recipe makes a little under 4 cups of syrup, which should be more than enough to try all these variations and come up with a few of your own. :)
Adapted from Chow
4 cups fresh blackberries
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
Handful of lemon verbena leaves
Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil.
Once the mixture reaches a boil, continue cooking for 5 minutes, gently crushing the berries against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes.
Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing against the solids to extract all the goodness you can. Discard the solids.
Pour the resulting syrup into a clean container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Syrup will keep for up to a week in the fridge, or for up to six months in the freezer.