Back to School With Orchard Fruit (Plum, Peach, and Apple) Sodas

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A note from Maggie

Sarah Waldman is living the dreamy life. Born and raised on the mainland, she now lives on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, two young boys, and oodles of healthy seasonal recipes that celebrate family. I’m a huge fan of her Summer Tacos; want to bury myself in her Blueberry Schlumpf; and with this Peach Frozen Yogurt, we’re all covered for the last very hot days of summer.

I’m delighted that Sarah’s sharing an effortless teacher’s (or anyone) gift at the time of year when another jar of tomato sauce might make us all crazy. Bubble up these Orchard Fruit Soda Syrups with simple seltzer; or gift them with a tiny bottle of seltzer. Either way, the last bit of fruit from your local orchard will top off a wonderful season. And be sure to keep an eye out for Sarah’s cookbook, Feeding a Family; a Year of Simple and Healthy Family Dinners, due out in spring 2017.

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Ever since I can remember, seltzer water has not only been my drink of choice but the beverage obsession of those around me. I vividly recall sitting on the kitchen floor as a young girl watching my mom pull out her manual seltzer machine, wrestling the parts together, pumping it up, and pouring tall glasses of “soda” for my sister and me.

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As a teenager I would buy bottles of raspberry-flavored seltzer from the corner store while walking “uptown” with my friends. In college, empty, fizzy water cans littered my dorm room, and while pregnant, it was the only drink I wanted for 9 months. Now, as a mother of two young boys, I field requests for the bubbly beverage on almost an hourly basis. I guess it is in their DNA.

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To help celebrate the start of school and our favorite drink, we made small batches of plum, peach, and apple fruit syrups, presented with cute bottles of bubbly, as teacher gifts. Just a few tablespoons of the potent, rich fruit syrup drizzled over ice and topped with fizzy water makes the perfect late afternoon pick-me-up for teachers and students alike.

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Families are not the only ones transitioning from summer to fall. New England orchards are holding onto late summer crops (plums and peaches) while starting to produce fall favorites (pears and apples). After hitting up the pick-your-own orchard or neighborhood farmer’s market, put some of your fruit to use in these vibrant plum, peach, and apple mixes simply made from ripe fruit, lemon juice, water, and agave nectar.

Cheers to fall and all the teachers out there.

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Plum, Peach, or Apple Syrup + Orchard Fruit Soda

Makes: 4 ounces of syrup (1 gift, 3 to 4 glasses of sodas)

Ingredients:

For the plum, peach, or apple syrup
  • 1 cup plums (about 2 whole plums), peaches (about 1 whole), or apple (about 1 whole), roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon raw agave nectar (sub honey if you’d like)
  • 1/4 lemon, juiced
For the Orchard Fruit Soda
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fruit syrup, recipes below (plum, peach, or apple)
  • Seltzer water

Directions:

Make the plum, peach, or apple syrup
  1. Combine the fruit of your choice (plum, peach, or apple), water, agave, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the fruit is falling apart. After about 7 minutes, mash the fruit up with a potato masher or the back of a fork. If the mixture gets very thick, simply add a few tablespoons of water.
  2. Once the fruit has simmered for 10 minutes and is very soft, remove the pot from the heat. Set a small strainer over a bowl and strain the cooked fruit through, gently helping it with the back of a wooden spoon. Transfer the strained syrup to a 4-ounce glass jar.
Make the orchard fruit soda
  1. Fill a glass with ice. Spoon in a few tablespoons of fruit syrup then fill with seltzer water. Pop in a straw, give a gentle stir, and enjoy immediately.

Materials

  • 3 4-ounce glass jars with lids
  • 3-feet thin ribbon
  • 3 gift tags

Directions

  1. Simply tie ribbon around the lidded jar, attach a gift tag, and present the orchard fruit syrup with a small bottle of sparkling water.
Photography by Nyssa Photography.

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Comments

  • Svenja

    Sounds great! How long can you keep the syrup once it is open and will I need to refrigerate it? Thanks!

    • Kate H. Knapp

      Great question, Svenja! It will keep in the jar refrigerated for up to a week. Cheers!

  • These are simply gorgeous, Sarah! Those sweet bows…

  • Vanessa

    Thanks for your sharing with us.
    A glass of fruit in the morning will help you more energy.
    I try to make following your way. It is so easy to get a hot drink fruit on summer.