When I gave up my nagging addiction to Diet Coke last fall, I needed some good replacement strategies. A tall glass of fizzy water with a splash of homemade fruit syrup has been one of the most enjoyable. (We love our SodaStream fizzy water maker, by the way. No more endless, expensive cases of bottled sparkling water around here.)
Surprisingly, however, I’ve found that syrup making isn’t always easy. I’ve made so many syrups by accident — failed marmalades or jellies — that I thought making syrup on purpose would be a snap. But so far I’ve made some that are too sweet and some that are sludgy, some that are too thin and some that don’t have the balance of flavors I was hoping for. Everything takes practice! Luckily, pretty much everything is also drinkable — especially if it’s evening and you add a splash of gin or vodka.
Anyway, after two tries and some good advice about using fresh blood orange juice instead of cooked — because cooking makes blood orange juice bitter, not better — this small batch of syrup worked out very well. And, oh, the color! I wanted to write it down here to share it and also so I won’t forget what I did.
Quince Blood Orange Coriander Syrup
2 cups quince juice
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cracked coriander seeds
1 cup fresh blood orange juice (from 5-6 oranges)
I have about two gallons of quince juice in my freezer from last fall, so the first ingredient was no problem. If you don’t have an endless supply of quince juice at hand, the process of making it is described in this post. (It’s actually a great thing to make ahead and keep frozen for marmalades, jellies, and syrups.) Take the quince juice and put it in a saucepan with two cups of sugar. (The saucepan should be a little bigger than you think it needs to be because the mixture will foam up.) Then crack at least a teaspoon of coriander seeds with a mortar and pestle and add the coriander to the saucepan, too. Heat the mixture slowly to dissolve the sugar, stirring occasionally, then bring it to a simmer for 8 minutes. Stir in the fresh squeezed blood orange juice. Bring the mixture back to a simmer for 2 minutes more. Remove it from the heat, skim the foam, and strain the syrup through a fine mesh sieve.
This recipe makes 3-4 cups of syrup. I keep mine in the fridge.