Blackberries on Acid

When you've made all the cobbler you can handle...

These blackberries are destined for cobbler, but I've got so many more secret stashes of blackberry bushes to loot that my jeans can only handle me eating so much more cobbler.

When my friend Lily gave me a bottle of her blackberry acid that she made last year, my picking fixation was renewed. Plus, it's weird, but I love making my own condiments. Blackberry acid is an intense berry sweet syrup you can use to make soda or flavor drinks. I don't like mine too sweet, so add more sugar if you do. But that would just screw up my simple formula.

In addition to sugar and blackberries, you need cheese cloth to keep out fruit flies and allow for escaping gases, and a glass receptacle big enough for the size of your batch. I use large glass pickle jars from my peeps at Specialty Bottle in Georgetown. My standard ratio for a batch of blackberry acid is 3-2-1 cups of blackberries, sugar, and water respectively. Add to this 2 tablespoons of tartaric acid* (I mix it with the sugar first).

Now dump it in the pickle jar, cover it with cheese cloth, put it in a cool, dark place (NW basements are perfect) and forget about it for a few days. Then press and strain out the large berry pieces and put it back in the jar, cover it and let it sit for another week or more. To really get knockout flavor, you've got to give the tartaric acid time--most recipes don't. Strain it into sterilized jars or bottles and cover securely (recycled screw cap wine bottles work great). Add it to seltzer, lemonade, ginger ale, or yogurt, whatever. Come November use it to treat you S.A.D. because sipping on this stuff is like fifteen minutes in the sun. It's also tasty in a gin and tonic... just use your imagination.

*Tartaric acid is an old-timey preservative that used to be common with canning mommas; you can purchase it in bulk foods stores or wine/beer making supply shops. I get mine HERE.

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