Updated May 20, 2022
Summer is in full swing in Michigan, which means fresh berries and herbs are available in abundance. I love to make various preserves throughout the season so that I have a few jars to give as gifts to friends & family and some wonderful treats to enjoy myself during the long winter months.
This delicious, unique simple syrup combines some of my favorite flavors of these lovely summer months. Blueberries are a familiar favorite and the addition of black currants and wild bergamot gives this syrup a tasty twist.
Black currants are not extremely popular, at least in this area, and can be a bit tricky to find. If you’re lucky, you might be able to get them at a farmer’s market or find a fruit farm that will let you pick them yourself. We are fortunate enough to have a great orchard nearby where we can pick these tasty berries. If possible, growing your own is a great option. If you can’t find black currants and still want to make this recipe, just substitute an equal amount of blueberries. The currants add a unique flavor, but blueberry-bergamot syrup is also lovely.
When eaten fresh, black currants have a sweet, earthy flavor that some people don’t enjoy. I personally think they’re wonderful, but they are definitely different. However, most people do like black currants in syrups, jellies, and wines. They have a delicious flavor that is similar blackberries, but a bit richer and more concentrated.
Wild Bergamot is a lovely plant that can be found flowering in the fields, meadows, and roadsides in our area right now. I love its strong, spicy, oregano-like flavor. It’s definitely not what you would expect from such a delicate and pretty flower! It is wonderful as a cooking spice, garnish for salads, and to flavor syrups and jellies. Dina Falconi’s book, Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook — provides lots of wonderful information about how to wildcraft and use bergamot. This is one of my favorite books on foraging wild edibles as it has very thorough plant profiles, amazing recipes, and is beautifully illustrated.
Black Currant, Blueberry & Wild Bergamot Syrup
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup black currants (or 1 more cup of blueberries if you are omitting black currants)
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups honey
- 1/3 cup wild bergamot flowers, firmly packed
- 1 tsp lime juice
*This recipe makes 1 pint of syrup
Combine all ingredients, except the lime juice, in a sauce pan. Heat on medium, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until the berries begin to break down and the sauce begins to thicken. Add the lime juice and remove from heat.
Strain through a mesh strainer. You may need to stir the mixture around in the strainer a bit so that all the liquid drains out. Store syrup in a glass jar with a lid. I find that the leftover berry mush that you strain out of the syrup is just too delicious to discard. It actually ends up being a lot like jam and is great on toast. You may want to pick out the bergamot flowers if you do this as they can be a bit strong, though I personally really enjoy their unique flavor.
Enjoy this lovely syrup drizzled over ice cream, pancakes, or waffles, or mix it into cocktails, iced tea, kombucha, or homemade sodas. You can also pour your syrup into a pretty glass jar and decorate it with a nice label to make a unique gift for your favorite foodie.
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