Pickin' wild mountain berries

The blueberries are early this year. We picked up our order the other day - twenty-five pounds worth, nestled snug in their cardboard box for the ride home. Most went right into the freezer for smoothies upon smoothies to come. Some went into a rather delicious crumble, others into a frozen yogurt that's about to be sandwiched between oatmeal ginger cookies. I wish I had doused all of them in gin syrup though. 

Yes, gin syrup. You mix some sugar and water together, add a sprig of rosemary, some crushed juniper berries and bring it all to a boil. You pour it over your blueberries - hot, so they don't cook but soften, plumping up ever so sweetly. They turn from dusky to gleaming, glittering, starry-summer-night blue. And then you add gin. And then you wonder why you never realized that blueberries were made for this. Because now they taste like they grew on the mossy fringes of an alpine meadow, scented with sun-warmed pine and freshened by cool mountain breezes.

What to do with your jar of refreshing, woodsy-sweet berries in syrup? Take to them with a spoon! Pour into glasses, add soda water to taste and more gin if you like for the best drink of the whole summer. Imagine yourself in far-off, high mountain places. Maybe watch this video, too.

Blueberries in Gin Syrup
From Gourmet

1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
15 juniper berries, crushed
1 (4 inch) sprig of rosemary
pinch of salt
1 1/2 lbs blueberries
1/4 cup gin (perhaps Victoria Spirits)

Combine water, sugar, juniper berries, rosemary and salt in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Place blueberries in a heatproof bowl and strain syrup through a sieve over the berries. Stir in gin. Macerate until completely cooled, about 30 minutes. Store in the fridge. 

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