I had my last alcoholic beverage on October 11th, 2005. The toughest part of giving up alcohol for me was losing the variety of drink options. There are tens of thousands of amateur and professional bartenders around the world constantly working on developing new cocktails. The options are virtually limitless. When I gave up booze my options were far more limited. I have never been a fan of tea and I despise the taste of root beer. This is when I began experimenting with different drink options.
I am a fan of the adult soda trend, but it is not a cost effective alternative. I sought out ways to create delicious beverages that were tasty, not sugar laden, easy to make, and affordable. I have shared my recipe for a cherry limeade before. I described how to make bubble tea. I created some basic flavored syrups recipes. I even demonstrated how to make a better arnold palmer. All of these make tasty beverages, but all of them have their limitations. Today, I want to show you how to turn fruit into incredibly tasty drinks that cost less than a dime each.
So I went down to the local farmer’s market and picked up a variety of fruit. I was able to buy strawberries, grapes, ginger, peaches, pears, kiwi, and mangos. A quick stop by the tea store landed me a big bag of yerba matte. I finished at the nearby Asian market to grab a bag of sugar and some more boba for bubble teas. The fruit and sugar shown in this picture cost me a total of $12.50.
Next came the syrup making. I started by washing and peeling all of the hard skinned fruit. Then I coarsely chopped it. Precision is not vital here, but you do want it chopped into smaller pieces. This allowed me to finally have occasion to use a present I received last Christmas.
The basic recipe I used for each of the syrups was simple:
1 cup fruit
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
You can modify the recipe based on the strength and sweetness you are looking for in the syrups. I brought each batch to a boil and lowered it to a simmer for about 20 minutes while stirring occasionally.
You will know the syrup is ready by taste. Once it develops the strength of flavor you want, remove it from heat. Pour through a fine strainer into the container you wish to keep it in. As an additional step, you can then take the fruit and place it into cheesecloth to squeeze the remaining juice from the fruit. Each batch listed above will yield approximated 18 ounces of syrup.
Because I let the deals at the farmer’s market dictate how much fruit I purchased, some flavors were made in larger batches. I also took the additional step of canning the excess syrup.
The end result was approximately 200 ounces of syrup. After experimenting with the syrups I found that only 1-2 ounces mixed with still or carbonated water made the perfect drink. This means that my $12.50 shopping excursion yielded 133-16 ounce drinks for a cost of $.09 per drink. I have already begun developing some favorites and will be sharing recipes to flavor combinations in the coming weeks. These syrups make wonderful treats and are a great alternative to soda when looking for some variety in your beverage routine.