Can-Do Real Foods works with a number of small family farms in the area. One, located high on the ridge above Newberg, is Sunshower Hill Farm, owned by Ranee and Jody Solmonsson. They raise a number of organic crops and Ranee produces amazing teas.
A couple of years ago she had a small crop of garden huckleberries and wanted a culinary syrup which might be used for pancakes and desserts, but was planned to make spectacular beverages from a simple Italian soda with carbonated water to your most alluring adult beverage of choice.
Whenever we mention this product most people assume we are talking about wild huckleberries, the kind you enjoy on summer hikes usually at higher altitudes. Garden huckleberries, however, are a whole different genus and belong in the nightshade family. They grow on cultivated bushes and are ready to harvest after the nights start getting significantly cold.
The berries are pretty large and not sweet at all. The skin is tough and the berry, when ripe, is hard.
This presents a bit of a challenge in the processing. We need to extract juice from this hard berry, so the first step, after washing, is to heat it up to help soften it.
Then the berries get milled and having the right tool is an important trick. Using a typical food mill or a chinois is long and laborious, with the container needing to be cleaned out and muscle fatigue in the shoulder usually occurring before the job is finished.
However, thanks to a friend, we were able to borrow another kind of mill that spit the juice one way, the “must” (seeds, any stems and skins) another direction and it all worked easier on the arm.
Even better, when we ordered one we were able to get one with a motor as well as other screens to help us with other foods we process this way, such as pumpkin, grapes, and quince.
Once we have enough juice, sugar is added and then a bit of lemon juice to add a sparkle. Filling the jars is the final step and then, as in any canned food, letting it process and sit to make sure the seal is tight.
Sunshower Hill Farm will have this item for sale starting late in November. Contact them directly for obtain this wonderful syrup.