The amount of beautiful fruit on my counter the day of our CSA delivery is actually a little bit embarrassing. Without fail, I see the piles and wonder how we’ll get through it all by the next week. But we always do. A few pieces of fruit might end up in the freezer for smoothies, but most just end up in our morning oatmeal and eaten raw as snacks all day long. We have an “open bar” policy with the fruit. The boys can always grab a piece, no need to ask.
Having so much stonefruit around the house leads to a lot of pits. Fruitflies, too. But I am only going to make simple syrups from the former. I first discovered how delicious and truly simple these syrups are last spring when I came across this gem of a recipe for rhubarb mojitos. I LOVE mojitos. I basically grow mint for those drinks. Alcoholic or virgin, sign me up!
I am also fond of the idea of less food waste. In fact, I’m a little bit obsessed with this and feel really guilty about throwing food out. So much so that I love having our neighbors’ chickens to feed my wilted, sorry greens, carrot tops and any other produce I’ve let sit too long. These chickens, Betty and Betty, know the boys and me so well that they “bok bok bok” happily when they hear our voices.
Our first season of the fruit CSA came on the heels of making those rhubarb mojitos. I ordered extra cherries for dehydrating one week, and as I stared at an enormous pile of pits, I decided to try to make a simple syrup from them. It worked! There was enough cherry fruit left on the pits to lend a strong cherry flavor and the pits added an essence of almond that’s really nice. This gave me yet another use for our stonefruit. Plus, it’s nearly free.
Having a sweet drink around the house is a rare treat. We don’t buy soda and rarely buy juice. The boys like the syrups solo, but I usually serve them to myself mixed with water to my preferred level of sweetness. My favorite combo is sparkling water, a little freshly squeezed lime juice, and some mint. I also occasionally enjoy white rum in place of the water. The mojitos were so popular last season that we’re out of rum.
I save our pits in a glass jar in the fridge or freezer, depending on how fast I’m going to get to them. I also throw in any parts of fruit I’ve cut off because it’s bruised, overripe or otherwise damaged. I only save pits from fruit that was sliced to serve, not sucked on. If I was only serving myself, I wouldn’t care, but with two young boys and their boogers, I’m not taking chances. I have mixed up all the fruit pits. Right now I love the mingling of flavors this provides, but soon I’m going to make just a peach and cinnamon syrup and freeze some for winter. Oddly, I really want to drink the flavors of peach pie this winter.
Stonefruit Simple Syrup
1 cup stonefruit pieces and/or pits* (peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, pluots, nectarcots, cherries, etc…)
2 cups water
3/4 – 1 cup sugar or 1/4 cup honey (Taste for sweetness. I lean towards less since our fruit is quite sweet, but I’ve seen recipes calling for up to 2 cups of sugar. Those are too sweet for my liking but if you’re used to sodas, you might need to start high and work you way down lower. Similarly, our current honey is quite flavorful and I found 1/4 cup to be plenty. You’re probably best off tasting it as you make it, adding more as desired.)
Optional: a light sprinkling of cinnamon, freshly ground nutmeg, a splash of vanilla or part of a bean & if you’re into it, a whole clove (I find that cloves can be overpowering, so consider letting one simmer in the syrup for just a minute or two and then discarding it). I love cinnamon with the stone fruit. I feel like I’m drinking pie.
Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring them to a boil. Reduce to let them simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool.
Strain the solids and discard. Simple syrups will last for at least two weeks covered in the fridge. (You can also leave the solids in while the syrup is refrigerated. Just strain prior to serving.) If you prefer, they can be frozen, like ice cubes, and added to summer cocktails. Or warmed up in the winter when you’re missing peaches.
Serve the syrup with extra water (tap or sparkling) to your desired level of sweetness or drink it full strength. I generally prefer about a 1:1 ratio. Add lime juice and a few mint leaves for pizazz. There’s never enough pizazz.
If you’re feeling like an extra special treat, forego the water and add a tablespoon or two of fresh lime juice to an ounce of white rum, two ounces of the simple syrup and some muddled mint leaves. Summertime stonefruit mojito! Cheers!
After originally posting this a friend alerted me that many stonefruit pits may contain cyanide in them. The kernels inside the pits house an enzyme that, when released, breaks down into cyanide. This enzyme could be released through mastication of the kernel or smashing it to pieces. Anyways, after reading 20+ google entries on the topic, I can’t quite tell whether or not the enzymes could also be released from the kernels during the boiling process, nor if the boiling process would kill them. There seems to be varying opinions, but this source seemed to be the most thorough, accurate description if you want to read more details.
I also found this stonefruit pit recipe online. These NYC chefs are still alive and have served countless customers without problems. I’m pretty sure they would’ve been shut down if that wasn’t the case. From my reading and my tweets with a few chefs (Nigel Slater responded to me! Made my day!), I am not concerned about making this syrup with pits added for flavor. I haven’t felt sick from it and haven’t noticed anything in my children. Maybe we have cyanide metabolizing superpowers, but I doubt it. If you are concerned, use just the fruit for your syrup. Either way, it does seem clear that we shouldn’t be chewing and swallowing the kernels, so please don’t do that. However tempting it may be.