This sweet-tart sauce is the essence of late summer. It transports me back to the country roads and wind-swept beaches of Vashon Island, where I spent so many Septembers foraging for blackberries, baking for hours in the scorching sun, just to get enough ripe berries for ONE pie. Regardless of what it took to get a heaping bowl of ripe blackberries, I never let summer slip into fall without at least one homemade blackberry pie. But there were never enough blackberries to explore other great ways to use them.
These days, I’m scrounging for berries on the back roads of the tiny village of Allyn on the Olympic Peninsula, but the pickings are slim and the berries are small and mostly still unripe in mid-September.
So when we bounced back to Portland recently for a city break and quick round of the inspired farmers markets, I actually gasped at the sight of full flats of the biggest, juiciest blackberries I’ve ever seen. Shelling out $18 for a flat was a total bargain.
But then of course I had to come up with several immediate ways to use them. This was the first and features the phenomenal flavor pairing of blackberries and lime–with just a whisper of licorice from star anise.
There must be at least a hundred ways to use this delicious sauce, but for starters, try it with vanilla panna cotta or ice cream, crème caramel, lime or raspberry sorbet, lemon tart, or blackberry shortcake. It’s also wonderful as the base for an Italian or ice cream soda.
Blackberry Lime Syrup with Star Anise
This is no ordinary blackberry syrup. Lime kicks up the acidity level and is a perfect flavor pairing with the berries—accentuating but not dominating. And then just a hint of licorice flavor via star anise lends an exotic note that I find irresistible.
NOTE Use the lesser amount of sugar if you want to serve the sauce as an accompaniment to or element of a savory dish, such as alongside grilled chicken, or as an embellishment in a composed salad.
NOTE Don’t skip the preserves, with their pectin, as they give the syrup a nice pouring consistency–perfect for garnishing a dessert plate or drizzling onto ice cream.
¼ cup premium-quality blackberry preserves (such as Trader Joes Seedless Northwest Blackberry Preserves)
- In a large saucepan, add the blackberries, water, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, and star anise.
- Bring to a simmer and simmer slowly for about 15 minutes. Blackberries will turn to mush and syrup will acquire a syrup consistency with glossy patina.
- Remove from heat and allow flavors to meld for at least 1 hour.
- Pour the syrup mixture though a fine triple-mesh strainer set over a deep bowl or pitcher.
- After straining the syrup, whisk in blackberry preserves.
- Put the syrup into a covered container and store in the refrigerator until needed.
Makes about 2¼ cups.
Spirited Blackberry Lime Syrup with Star Anise
This variation has an added kick, which is especially nice with creamy desserts, such as panna cotta, custard, or ice cream.
¼ cup blackberry liqueur or Chambord
- At Step 2, during the last 5 minutes of simmering, add ¼ cup blackberry liqueur or Chambord to the syrup.
Makes about 2½ cups.
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