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Healthy Green Kitchen Strawberry Black Pepper Soda
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At the risk of sounding like a cliché, where did the summer go??? It certainly flew by for us Abramsons…my kids go back to school tomorrow.

As brief as the summer seemed to be, at least it lasted longer than strawberry season around here. The sweet red beauties came and were gone from local farm stands in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

Since I was eager to savor my favorite fruit for as long as possible, I bought up a bunch to preserve…


…and made this all-natural strawberry syrup we’ve been enjoying all summer mixed into carbonated water.

One of my favorite things about blogging is that publishers occasionally give me cookbooks to review. Ten Speed Press has been incredibly generous- they’ve sent me some really great titles- and the recipe for this syrup/soda comes from one of them: Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It: And Other Kitchen Projects by Karen Solomon.

I was initially put off by the amount of sugar in this recipe; I was also skeptical about the addition of the black peppercorns. I am so glad I decided to give it a go anyway: it makes an incredibly delicious syrup with a gorgeous red hue! I used just barely crushed peppercorns and strained them out after a week- I couldn’t really taste them in the syrup, but felt they intensified its flavor in an unexpected way.

Karen recommends adding 1 part syrup to 2 parts sparkling water and serving it over ice (with an optional shot of gin). When I pour myself a glass, I use less syrup than that. This is because I do try to limit my daily intake of sugar, and because I want the batch of syrup to last as long as possible. The great thing here, though, is that you can add as much as of the syrup as you like.

A bonus of this recipe is you get to savor the macerated strawberries, too. I cooked mine down further into a jam for canning, but you could just throw them into the food processor or put them through a food mill instead. Karen suggests doing this with a bit more orange juice before storing the jam-esque strawberries in the refrigerator for a few days…they’ll be great with plain yogurt, pancakes, etc.

I own a Sodastream so making sparkling water on demand is super easy. If you don’t have one, Karen includes instructions in the book for carbonating the soda with yeast.

If you’re interested in fun kitchen DIY projects like I am, I strongly recommend Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It. There are a few more soda syrups in the book, as well as many other unique and delicious-looking recipes.

Strawberry Black Pepper Syrup Recipe

Yield: 3 1/2- 4 cups of syrup

Total Time: less than 1 week


* about 2 pounds ripe organic strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved (7 cups)
* 3 1/2 cups sugar
* 3 tablespoons orange juice (about 1/2 orange)
* 2 tablespoons crushed black peppercorns


1. In a giant mixing bowl, combine the berries with 2 cups of the sugar, being sure to coat each berry in sugar completely. Cover the top of the berries in a blanket of the remaining 11/2 cups sugar. Let the berries macerate for 12 hours, stirring occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. (Setting this up after dinner and stirring periodically before bedtime is sufficient.) The berries will shrink in size and release their juice and the sugar will dissolve in the liquid. If necessary, cover the bowl loosely with a kitchen towel tied with string to protect the sweet syrup from insects.

2. After maceration, stir again to dissolve as much sugar as possible from the bottom of the bowl. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl and drain the syrup into it, stirring the fruit (but not pressing on it) to release as much liquid as possible. Reserve the fruit for another use (like jam or pie filling) and taste your syrup. Heaven.

3. Stir in the orange juice and the peppercorns and transfer the mixture to a clean, odorless glass jar with a secure lid. Refrigerate for 5 to 6 days to allow the peppercorn flavor to develop.

How to Store It: Store, refrigerated, for up to 1 month. For long-term storage, pour into canning jars and process for 10 minutes (the flavor will become "cooked" but it will still make good soda) . Canned, it will keep for 1 year.

Reprinted with permission from Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It: And Other Kitchen Projects by Karen Solomon, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.



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  1. 1

    Oui, Chef — September 6, 2011 @ 6:46 am

    YUM! I’ve had strawberries with black pepper and balsamic, so I totally get the black pepper thing. I keep hearing of more friends buying a Sodastream, I may have to break down and get one so I can make this treat.

    • Winnie replied: — September 6th, 2011 @ 10:39 am

      We really love our Sodastream Steve :)

  2. 2

    Amrita — September 6, 2011 @ 6:50 am

    As a kid I used to go on voyages with my family, since my father is a merchant seaman. And breakfast on the ship would always include the usual fixes accompanied with large jugs of freshly-squeezed orange juice, with pulp and loads of crushed black peppercorns.
    And I can imagine how yummy your strawberry soda would be! Can’t wait to try it!

    • Winnie replied: — September 6th, 2011 @ 10:40 am

      Wow fresh orange juice with crushed black peppercorns? That sounds fantastic. Hope you do try this…I certainly loved it :)

  3. 3

    Emma Galloway — September 6, 2011 @ 7:07 am

    Oh yum! I love the strawberry/black pepper combo. Would be lovely with a little thyme added too I imagine. We are just coming into spring here in Australia, so we are just starting to see fresh strawberries showing up, I’m excited to try this one! Thanks :-)

    • Winnie replied: — September 6th, 2011 @ 10:41 am

      I am so jealous you’re just seeing strawberries. Please go get some and try this…it’s delicious! I hope you have a lovely spring…

  4. 4

    Hannah — September 6, 2011 @ 9:14 am

    I know what you mean…strawberry season and summer both flew by. Sigh! I have to remind myself how much I love autumn with the lovely crisp air, apples and squash.

    This syrup looks wonderful. We have a lot of blackberries now so I may try it with them. We have a Sodastream and I like the idea of making syrups to flavor.

    • Winnie replied: — September 6th, 2011 @ 10:44 am

      If using blackberries, you might need to cook them briefly in some water to get them to give off their liquid…hmmm….
      I am going to be making more homemade syrups in the future and I’m glad you are too :)

  5. 5

    Paula — September 6, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

    Wow, that is a lot of sugar but if you say it’s a good syrup then it must be so. This is the first time I’ve heard of a Sodastream…what fun to own one.

    • Winnie replied: — September 6th, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

      Paula- yes it definitely is a lot of sugar. I think it would be possible to use less, but I didn’t try that yet. I don’t put very much in my bubbly water- nowhere near what the author suggests- so I feel ok about it. As for the soda stream, it’s really awesome. Got it as a gift from my mom last winter and have used it daily ever since.

  6. 6

    Nutmeg Nanny — September 6, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

    I really want to get a sodastream. You have no idea. When I go into Bed Bath and Beyond I just stare at it…. :)

  7. 7

    kamran siddiqi — September 6, 2011 @ 9:38 pm

    I don’t drink much soda, but I’ve a slight obsession with anything that has strawberries. I wonder how well golden syrup might work in this…

    Gorgeous photos, Winnie (love the glasses!)!

  8. 8

    Monet — September 8, 2011 @ 7:49 am

    What a wonderful idea! I love the thought of adding this syrup to some sparkling water. This look delicious and refreshing…and I’m sure it tastes even better. Thanks for sharing, friend. I hope you are having a beauty and joy-filed day. Hugs from Austin!

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    luke — February 29, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

    Would have never thought of combining black pepper and strawberrys. It must taste great!

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    healthy easy recipes — November 26, 2012 @ 1:51 am

    I look at that title and I say to myself ‘black pepper? seriously?’. Got me there. I love strawberries as much as my fave mangoes and this is definitely a keeper for me.

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