It’s blackberry abundance around these parts, and judging from the masses of green berries about town, it should continue to be so for a while.

Which means a person can afford to play around a little bit. So I thought I’d turn a quart of “seconds” into a smooth sauce, a good workaround for urban berries with big, gritty seeds. And since I was making the effort, I thought I’d experiment a bit with the berry’s dark, lush flavors — turns out you can go sweet or savory. It being summer, sweet and light was the easy choice for me. Cursory investigation indicated that the berries would meld well with liqueurs such as kirsch and framboise, and with citrus flavors, lemon being most popular.

I opted for orange zest plus a splash of Grand Marnier, and though the resulting syrup was too subtle for the overpowering sourness of yogurt, the subtle bittersweet flavors were tremendous over plain vanilla ice cream, making for the easiest late summer dessert imaginable.

Recipe: Sweet Blackberry Syrup

2 cups blackberries / ¼ cup granulated sugar, or to taste / 1 tbls orange zest, chopped / 1 tbls Grand Marnier, or to taste

Cook the blackberries, sugar, and zest over medium heat, adding a bit of water if the pot is too dry. When berries have collapsed, about ten minutes, run the mixture through a food mill, then stir in Grand Marnier and reduce over low heat until thickened to desired consistency. Makes about 1 cup. Cool and serve with vanilla ice cream. Stays good for weeks in the fridge.

food mill1