During a Saturday morning grocery run (early to beat the crowds of course), I was confronted by a display of fresh plums. I’d been wanting to make my own syrup to use in my SodaStream maker. The SodaStream is a system used to carbonate water to make your own sodas. You could just put the juice into the carbonated water to make the soda. That would be a healthy alternative. However, I wanted to emulate the soda syrup you can buy- they are thickened and sweetened. The diet soda syrup contains Splenda for sweetening but I don’t know how they make it thick. So I decided to try it by making a flavored simple syrup using the fruit juice and sugar.This seemed like the perfect fruit for it. I grabbed up 10 of the dark purple fruit along with some sugar.
You don’t need a pressure cooker/canner to make fruit syrups, jellies or jams; a large pot and strainer will do fine. For this attempt, I used 9 plums – this makes about 2 cups of juice.
Step 1: Cut the plums. First wash and cut the plums in half to expose the pit. The pit may or may not fall right out – it depends on how ripe the fruit has become. I like to use fully ripe fruit for juicing. If you run your knife all around the pit and the fruit doesn’t come apart, twist the halves with your fingers – the fruit will come apart. Either pull the pit out or cut it out with your knife and discard the pit. Cut the halves in half and put them into the large pot. Add a cup of water to the pot.
Step 2: Cook the Fruit. Bring to a gentle boil stirring often. Let the fruit boil for 10 minutes stirring and crushing the fruit pieces occasionally. Remove from heat.
Step 3: Strain the juice. Put a strainer over a large deep bowl; a stainless steel or glass bowl is best. If you want very pure juice, line the strainer with two layers of cheesecloth. I’m OK with some fruit pulp in my juice so I didn’t use any cheesecloth. Pour the hot fruit into the strainer. Let it set for about 20 minutes to give the juice time to strain into the bowl. Because I’m impatient and don’t mind pulp, I mashed the fruit with a wooden spoon to hurry the juice collection time.
Step 4: Make the soda syrup. The sugar to liquid ratio used depends on how sweet you want your syrup. A 1:1 liquid to sugar ratio is too sweet and calorie heavy for me so I opted for a .5:1 sugar to liquid ratio. As I’d juiced 2 cups of plum juice, I used 1 cup of sugar. To make this, bring your juice to a full rolling boil and then dump in the sugar all at once. Bring it back to a full boil and boil hard while stirring for 1 minute. The juice should thicken. When you lift your stirring spoon, the syrup should drip very slowly from the spoon. Remove from heat.
Pour the syrup into a measuring cup and let it cool for a several minutes. I finished the cooling in an ice bath. Be careful — do not put an extremely hot glass measuring cup into an ice bath – the glass may shatter. The best way is to fill the bowl with about two inches of tap water, set the measuring cup into the bowl and then add ice. Or just let the measuring cup sit for about a hour and then store it.
Step 5: Store. I put the cooled syrup into an empty, cleaned gatorade bottle and stored it the refrigerator. As it has no preservatives, you should use it within a couple of days. I also froze some – just to see how it thaws for use — I haven’t used those yet. I might just use it as a plum ice cube!
You can use this syrup as you would maple syrup – on pancakes, waffles and ice cream as well as in the SodaStream soda bottles. If you want to use it on pancakes and so forth, you might want to experiment with using the sweeter 1:1 juice and sugar ratio.
I used about a quarter cup of syrup for the half liter SodaStream bottle. It tasted great and all natural!