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Autism Cooking

Cooking while Autistic: Fresh Raspberries & Mandarins in Heavy Syrup… Uncanned


You can preserve fruit… that tastes even better than fresh!

Fast. Easy. Cheap. Food-Stamp Friendly.


TL;DR

* Easy. Done in minutes. Store for months.

* No canning. No boiling. Food-stamp friendly.

* Rinse fresh berries or citrus, add lemon juice, cover with heavy syrup, refrigerate.

* Think salads, ice cream, yogurt, kefir, smoothies, stakes, oatmeal, Cheerios, banana bread, sauces, tea, cocktails…

But, remember… G-d is in the details… Below.

Remember how cool finding a mandarin orange in your fruit cocktail was…

When you were a kid…? Especially before high-fructose corn syrup? Say, the 80s?

Remember fighting over the cherry?

Now…

Remember how great Torani syrups are in your Starbucks? Or flavored Martinis?

This… THIS is way cooler. Totally natural. As organic as you can afford.

And guaranteed better-than-canned.

In fact, mebbe better than fresh fruit…!

Make the heavy syrup.

  • 3 c sugar (I use char-free, raw, vegan sugar sold at Aldi’s. You pick your poison)
  • 1.5 c water (I find filtered or spring tastes best. You pays your money, you takes your chances.)
  1. Use any clean, air-dried quart-sized, non-reactive container… glass or ceramic are best. Plastic or metal… even stainless steel… will change the flavor. I use canning jars… or just convert a mayo jar. No need to boil or sterilize for this method. Brief explanation below.
  2. Put sugar & water over medium-high heat in a 3-qt or more pan. (In case the mixture foams up.) Optional: Put sugar in first and allow bottom to mildly caramelize — turn light brown — to add richness. Too dark? The caramel flavor will dominate.
  3. Take off heat after coming to a boil. Allow to cool. The syrup should be clear, not smoky or hazy. If you do caramelize, it will become a light caramel color.
Photo of rinsed & drained berries, oranges, and peels. Drained & ready to go.
Drained & ready to go.

Rinse fruit.

  • 6 oz Raspberries (“half pint”)
  • 4 mandarin oranges, peeled
  • Lemon & orange peel
  1. I soak and rinse fruit in half filtered water & half distilled vinegar. This removes dirt, insects… most  pesticides. It also plumps the fruit AND adds a smidgeon of tang — which makes them taste even sweeter in heavy syrup.
  2. I also soak a small amount of scraped lemon & mandarin orange peel. It looks pretty in the jar. And it intensifies the fruit flavor… like adding lemon zest to fruit pies. Scrape the white pith out of the peel after they soak. It’s kinda bitter.
  3. After soaking for 10-15 minutes drain the fruit. (I discard the vinegar, but it could be used in salad dressings and the like.)
Photo of orange peels and knife. A small amount of sliced lemon & orange peel adds decoration... and flavor. Just remember to scrape the bitter white pith from the inside before slicing.
A small amount of sliced lemon & orange peel adds decoration… and flavor. Just remember to scrape the bitter white pith from the inside before slicing.

Add lemon juice & heavy syrup.

  • 2 T lemon juice (per 6 oz of berries & 4 mandarin oranges)
  • Heavy syrup to completely cover. Important: Room temperature or cooler. We are packing fresh, living fruit. Any cooking will change texture, color, flavor.
  1. Use any clean, air-dried non-reactive container, as explained above. Layer fruit, small amounts of sliced citrus peel.
  2. Add lemon juice. This increases the citrus & berry flavors. And is important to this raw pack process, as I explain below.
  3. Pour in cooled, heavy syrup to cover.
Photo. End product, fruit in jar, ready to refrigerate.
End product, fruit in jar, ready to refrigerate.

Refrigerate… at least 2 weeks. If you can.

Honestly?

The first time you make these? Make an extra batch…?

You won’t be able to keep your spoon out of the jar from the moment you finish them… So make extra to refrigerate.

So, okay…

Why wait two weeks? 

It takes two weeks for the heavy syrup to work its magic.

The fruit & berries taste… good… immediately. Like fruit & berries in sugar. What could go wrong?

But they will taste great… after overnight in the fridge. Like the best fruit & berries and sugar you ever tasted. Tangy, powerfully sweet, fresh flavor.

Double BUT… 

They. Will. Blow. Your. Ever-loving. Mind… 

After two weeks.

Because you are using living fruit, they continue to change in the syrup. Sort of like post-grad work after ripening on the tree. AND the sugar and lemon juice will penetrate every cell…

For maximum intensity.

Why is this safe? Uncanned…?

This is a “raw pack” canning process. It works because microbes have trouble surviving in high acid & saturated sugar environments.

By simply ensuring everything is clean and air-dried, this should store in your refrigerator with no trouble for 3 months. And taste absolutely fresh.

To be sure this process is safe for 6 months or more, it is best to sterilize any jar or utensil for 8 to 10 minutes. Then pour in the uncooked fruit and sugar mixture into your container… and boil it all for 8 to 10 minutes.

This will parboil the fruit, changing the texture and flavor. Which is why I never do it.

But if you keep it in a cool dark place, it will last, unspoiled as long as any processed canned product will.

Now… For Two Secret Surprises!

Look… this will be the best fruit….

You ever put on or in anything that goes into your mouth.

But it doesn’t end there.

After the fruit is gone, save the syrup…

Sweeten your tea. Flavor any drink. Add to sauces. Use in salad dressings.

Coffee…

And, BTW, you just made extra heavy syrup with this recipe… enough for about 3 batches.

You’ll thank me.

One last secret…

I learned this in the kosher Jewish delis of New York City…

Try these over sour cream.

You. Will. Not. Believe. It.


If you are interested in traditional “raw pack” or hot-water-bath canning, here’s a good discussion.

One reply on “Cooking while Autistic: Fresh Raspberries & Mandarins in Heavy Syrup… Uncanned”

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