Strawberries, Blueberries, and Cherries in Lemon-Verbena Syrup

Makes 8 servings

This flexible, versatile recipe has been a staple in my repertoire since my long-ago catering days. Strawberries, blueberries, and cherries all ripen in June so I feature them here, but as summer wears on they can be supplanted by other Jersey gems, including raspberries, blackberries, and peaches. Feel free to swap out the lemon verbena or mint for lavender or rose-scented geranium. And lime juice can replace lemon, if you’re so inclined. (On occasion, I have even been known to tip a little brandy or kirsch into the cooled syrup.) Finally, while the fruit is great on its own, it’s even better served with a dollop of thick Greek-style yogurt (such as Valley Shepherd Creamery’s sheep’s milk yogurt) or a scoop of cassis sorbet, or over sponge cake.
-Pat Tanner

8 cups mixed fresh fruit, such as strawberries (halved if large), blueberries, and cherries (pitted)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh lemon verbena or mint
1 cup water
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Combine the fruit in a large bowl and set aside. Rub the verbena sprigs in your hands to release the oils. Combine with the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let the syrup steep for 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, and strain the mixture over the fruit. Stir gently. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for up to 6 hours.
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