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Homemade Syrups

Delicious Gifts

If you have a tight holiday gift-giving budget this year, why not consider making and packaging something homemade? Cookies, jellies, and relish are good ways to go, but the chefs at The Culinary Institute of America suggest something different—easy-to-make jars of flavored syrup. Festively decorated with fabric and ribbon, homemade syrup is that little something special that goes a long way. Family and friends can enjoy it at breakfast, serve it over ice cream, and even use it to flavor drinks long after the holidays are over.

"All you need to make homemade syrup is sugar, dried fruits, water, and your favorite spirit; you can even add things like nuts or fresh cranberries," says CIA maître d' instructor Doug Miller. "If alcohol content is a concern, adjust the amount by cooking it off or adding it in toward the end of the cooking process. Or, you can simply leave the alcohol out."

Put a personal touch into the gifts by thinking about which type of syrup your friends and family will most enjoy. Traditional maple syrup lovers will simply adore stirring Cranberry-Apple Brandy Syrup into their oatmeal or pouring it on their pancakes and waffles.  Folks who dream of beaches and tropical cocktails can top a dish of ice cream with Tropical Fruit and Coconut Syrup. And Pumpkin Syrup is ideal for someone who wants to make a cold winter day special—it can be used to spice up anything from cocktails to coffee.

One of the best things about homemade items is you have the option of making a few extra to keep on hand for those "emergency" situations when you need to give an unexpected holiday gift.

CIA's Homemade Syrups recipe

Ingredients

Cranberry-Apple Brandy Syrup

Yield: Three 8-ounce jars

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • 1 tablespoon cranberries
  • 3 pieces dried apples
  • 3 pieces dried plums
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup bourbon, rum, or brandy

Tropical Fruit and Coconut Syrup

Yield: Three 8-ounce jars

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup dried mango
  • 1/4 cup dried papaya
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup coconut rum or dark rum

Pumpkin Syrup

Yield: Three 8-ounce jars

  • 2 cups pumpkin meat or one small can of pumpkin
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon mace
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Cranberry-Apple Brandy Syrup

  1. Heat brown sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium high heat until the sugar melts.
  2. Add the raisins, cranberries, dried apples, dried plums, honey, vanilla extract, and brandy, and simmer for five minutes.
  3. Allow to cool to room temperature. Fill about one half of a Mason jar with the fruit from the syrup. Pour the liquid syrup over top of the fruit, place the lid on the jar, and screw down the top.

Tropical Fruit and Coconut Syrup

  1. Heat brown sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar melts.
  2. Add mango, papaya, coconut flakes, and rum, and simmer for five minutes.
  3. Allow to cool to room temperature. Fill about one half of a Mason jar with the fruit from the syrup. Pour the liquid syrup over top of the fruit, place the lid on the jar, and screw down the top.

Pumpkin Syrup

  1. Place all ingredients in a pot, bring to a soft boil for three minutes, remove from the heat, and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. Fill about one half of a Mason jar with the fruit from the syrup. Pour the liquid syrup over top of the fruit, place the lid on the jar, and screw down the top.

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