Makes: 750 ml
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
750 g prepared fruit, such as blackberries, boysenberries, loganberries, raspberries, strawberries, redcurrants or blackcurrants
125 - 250 g (0.5 - 1 cup) caster sugar
Put all the fruits into a heatproof bowl. If you are using blackberries, boysenberries, loganberries, raspberries or strawberries, add 90 ml of cold water; if using redcurrants, add 200 ml of water; and if using blackcurrants, add 600 ml of water. Place the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water and heat for some 20-30 minutes until the juice flows freely. Occasionally crush the fruit with a potato masher to help to extract the juice. When the fruit is very soft, take the bowl off the heat. Scald a nylon or stainless-steel sieve, a large bowl and a large square of muslin with boiling water; drain the bowl and sieve and sring out the muslin. Place the sieve over the bowl and line it with the muslin.
Pour the pulped fruit and syrup into the sieve and leave it to drain for about 20 minutes until almost all of the juice has dripped through the sieve into the bowl. Take two opposite sides of the muslin and fold them over the fruit so that it forms a secure parcel. Twist the ends of the muslin tightly in opposite directions to squeze out all the remaining juice. Once the juice has been extracted, discard the pips and dry pulp remaining in the muslin. This method produces a clear, smooth syrup. For a grainier, more textured juice, you can use a nylon sieve without the muslin.
Pour the fruit juice into a clean, stailess-steel or enamel saucepan. Add the sugar gradually, a tablespoon at a time, until sweetened to taste - sweet fruits such as boysenberries, raspberries and strawberries will need about 125 g (1/2 cup) while the other fruits will require more. Place the saucepan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved, but do not allow the syrup to become too hot. Pour into clean and preferably sterilized bottles, seal with a tight-fitting lid and store refrigerated for up to three months.
To serve, pour the syrup onto ice and dilute to taste, using about one part syrup to two or three parts mineral, soda, tonic or drinking water.
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