Fruit syrups are nothing new in the culinary world, but they’ve been becoming a bit of a trend for the richness of flavour they give to dishes, baked goods and even beverages.
There are two ways you can define fruit syrups. The ones that are picking up as a trend are essentially sugar substitutes. Fruit is pressed to extract the juice. The colour and fruit flavour is then removed and the remaining juice is reduced down to a clear syrup to be used as a sweetener. Traditionally, these syrups have been made from overripe or otherwise unsellable fruits (fruits that aren’t a nice colour or shape, for example).
The other type of fruit syrup is the type that maintains the flavour and colour of the fruit used, such as blueberry or strawberry syrup. There’s a nice article here on how to make them yourself.
Some people believe that fruit syrups are somehow healthier than refined white sugar. There’s a lot of debate and no clear answer, but the fact remains that when something might be healthier and also tastes yummy… well, we humans usually jump on it.
Trends are fun, but they can also be problematic when it comes to food waste. People buy the hot new item and find it isn’t to their taste and then they toss it out. Also, production picks up to meet the trend, but once the trend dies down, what happens with all that stock? You guessed it: trash.
So, if you’ve purchased a fruit syrup for a recipe and didn’t like the way it turned out, or if you see deeply discounted syrups in the store (which happens when consumers don’t jump on a trend, as anticipated) and want to be a hero and scoop some up so it doesn’t end up wasted… what do you do with all that syrup???
Whether the syrup you have is the sugar replacement type, or the fruit flavoured type, the good thing about these syrups is that they’re pretty versatile. Here are 5 ways you can use them up to prevent waste:
This is probably one of the easiest ways to use up syrups quickly because you usually use them in larger quantities. It isn’t totally straightforward to substitute white sugar for a syrup, but not too difficult either. You can find great advice here and here. If you’re using one of the sugar substitutes, the instructions for using honey would most likely apply. If you’re using a fruit flavoured syrup, the maple syrup instructions would likely work best. You can get creative with pairings to create some really yummy flavours. For example, a cranberry syrup might taste amazing in an apple muffin, while a cherry or raspberry syrup would bring a fruity richness to a decadent chocolate cake.
Syrups are easy to use to sweeten hot or cold beverages. In the winter, you can mix them with cocoa powder and a pinch of cinnamon to make rich hot chocolate, add them to hot tea with lemon for a sniffly night, or use them to sweeten mulled wine. A dash of brandy in that hot tea with lemon and syrup wouldn’t be too bad either!
In the summer (or winter too, for that matter), fruit syrups are amazing for making tasty mocktails or for sweetening homemade lemonade or iced tea. Because they’re liquid, they also dissolve much better than granulated sugar. When using regular white sugar for cold beverages, you usually first have to boil it with water to make a simple syrup. Using a fruit syrup bypasses that step.
It’s much easier to use syrups in sauces and marinades than in baking. Usually, it’s a direct 1:1 substitute, but you can also start with less and add more, bit by bit, to get the flavour you want. This sweet and sour sauce is a great one to try. You can use the sauce on meatballs, spareribs, seafood or even on a vegetable stir fry or sweet and sour roasted tofu. It’s incredibly versatile and would probably work great with fruit flavoured syrups like pineapple, citrus, peach, apricot or apple.
For marinades, many fruit syrups work very well with acid. Try strawberry and balsamic, pomegranate and white wine, blueberry and cider vinegar, apricot and dijon mustard… the possibilities are deliciously endless!
A fruit compote is usually served warm as a topping for desserts like pound cake or ice cream, or as a topping for breakfast items like oatmeal, waffles, chia bowls, yogurt or pancakes. It’s made by combining fresh fruit and a little liquid (usually fruit juice, but water or even alcohol can be used) and simmering it to break down the fruit.
For very tart or under ripe fruits, a little sugar is added to sweeten the compote. This is how you can take advantage of fruit syrups and tart, out of season fruits. As we head into spring, for example, the first batches of fresh peaches, apples and berries can often be quite tart, but we tend to jump on them after long winters. Using a touch of fruit syrup, you can bring out the fresh flavours of summer in those early fruits, or use that leftover bag of frozen cranberries from the holidays to make a delicious fruit compote.
Granola is a great way to start the day, whether you mix it with yogurt, use it as an oatmeal or cold cereal topping, or eat it on its own with a dash of milk. The problem is, premade granola is often packed with added sugar and usually quite expensive.
Making your own is surprisingly easy and versatile, so you can get the flavours you want and control how much you spend on it. For example, if a recipe calls for expensive pecans, you can leave them out or replace them with walnuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or even toasted soy nuts. This granola-making method is a great one to start with and uses syrup as a sweetener. It’s a great way to use up whatever fruit syrup you have on hand, while controlling the amount of sugar in your granola, and making a budget-friendly, nutritious breakfast or snack option.
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