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June 2000 Issue
Making Berry Syrups and Sauces
by Ronda L. Halpin
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There are few things in life that I enjoy as much as picking fresh berries at the peak of their season. That's mostly because -- no matter how hard I try -- I can't help but sample just a few before they manage to make it to my basket! However, if I can keep from ruining my appetite with such delectable morsels, I always have a big treat waiting for me when I get to the kitchen. That's where I have a ready store of angel food cake, vanilla ice cream, oatmeal and granola, whole wheat pancake mix and all of the other wonderful culinary delights that reach heavenly when paired with fresh berries.

While munching on fresh berries just after (or during) being picked is always a special treat, it makes good sense to save a few for making simple, yet elegant sauces and syrups for breakfasts, brunches and desserts. Add a few tried and true ingredients and you have wonderful accompaniments to your favorite things in life. I even manage to include small strained quantities to my favorite summertime teas and cold drinks!

The key to making berry syrups and sauces is to avoid over-sweetening them. Remember that most of the berries used in such recipes have a good deal of natural sweetness to them. It would be a shame to overshadow this trait by adding too much sugar to the mix. So, to be on the safe side, when I make such recipes I always add less sugar than the recipe calls for and then taste the result before adding any more sweetener. It only takes a little extra time and it can make the difference between a perfect dessert and something just too darned sweet!

There are four great recipes to help you take full advantage of the beautiful crop of berries that's showing up in gardens, pick-your-own plots, farmers' markets and grocery stores everywhere. Feel free to mix and match the berries you have on hand to make a special combination that's truly yours.

Enjoy these recipes and be sure to let us know how you like using berries in your favorite recipes. We'd love to have more great ideas for our kitchens too!
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