Blackberry Italian Soda?!?! Making Fruit Extracts
No, I did not give up pressure cooking! I used an easy and little-known technique for extracting juice in the pressure cooker to make a blackberry extract.
Don’t let the name fool you. Italian Soda was not invented in Italy but San Francisco (my home in America for almost 25 years) in their local Italian American neighborhood – North Beach! In Italy, fruit syrups are used for desserts, to add to water, shaved ice or granita. The idea of adding a fruit syrup to sparkling water is a uniquely American innovation and gives this recipe the “creds” to be called Soda.
|My family foraging for blackberries used in this recipe (and many other delicious desserts) from our secret spot in the middle of our local urban jungle outside of Rome, Italy.|
The advantage of extracting juice using your pressure cooker, as opposed to a centrifugal press, is that the end product is already sterilized and can last longer. In addition to a pressure cooker, you will also need a trivet, heat-proof container (or un-perforated insert), and steamer basket.
You can either use the ones supplied or sold by your pressure cooker manufacturer:
Or make one yourself from suitable substitutes (see the Pressure Cooker Accessories Page for details):
You can make extracts from fruits, herbs even flowers (make sure the flowers are edible, grown without pesticides and can be extracted using steam distillation). Some fruits can be used whole (as in berries), while others just need to be cut in half or roughly sliced (no more peeling or coring!!)
To make extracts, add a cup or two of water in the base of the pressure cooker, then the trivet, heat-proof container and on top of that the steamer basket. Place the fruit in the steamer basket, pressure cook, and the cells of the fruit will burst open and dribble their little juice in the container, below. The fruit will remain plump, because the steam will have taken the place of the juice but most of the flavor will have been lost and dribbled down into the container below. This is also what happens when you pressure cook something for more than the recommended pressure cooking time – that’s why over-pressure cooked food is so tasteless – all of the juice has left the food and gone into the bottom of the pressure cooker. The trick here, is to catch the flavor without having to do too much work to get it out of the fruit (like peeling, coring, squeezing, filtering, etc.).
The resulting extract can then be mixed with sugar, as in this recipe, to make a syrup to be drizzled on desserts or mixed with water or cocktails, used as a base for making a jelly or used in cooking to add that extra zing of flavor.
Juice Extraction Pressure Cooking Times:
|High Pr. (2)|
strawberries, rasberries, etc.
|Fruits with Pits
cherries, plums, peaches, etc.
|Fruits with Cores
apples, pears, etc.
|Pressure Cooker||Accessories||Pr. Cook Time||Pr. Level||Open|
|5 L or larger||trivet, steamer, heat-proof bowl||12 min.||High (2)||Natural|
- 14 oz (350g) of Blackberries washed and air-dried.
- about 1 cup of White sugar (see instructions)
- 1 bottle Sparkling Water
- 1 lemon cut into coins
- Prepare your pressure cooker by adding one cup of water (or the minimum amount required), the trivet, an empty heat-proof container, and steamer basket filled with the berries in an even layer (see photos). You may want to reserve a few fresh berries to use as a garnish.
- Close and lock the lid. Turn the heat to high until the pan reaches pressure, then begin counting 12 minutes cooking time at HIGH pressure.
- When time is up, open the pressure cooker using the Natural Release method - move the cooker to cold burner and don't do anything (about 10 minutes).
- The berries will still appear plump, but don't be fooled - their precious juice has leaked out into the container, below, and they are filled with water now.
- Pull out the steamer basket (you can make a lightly flavored fruit compote with the left-over fruit).
- Next, carefully lift out the heat-proof container and pour the contents into a measuring cup.
- Pour the extract in a heavy-bottom saucepan (if you have a pressure cooker set, you can use the smaller pan from the set).
- On medium heat, stir the mixture constantly until all of the sugar has dissolved completely and you no longer feel any grit with the spoon at the bottom of the pan (about 5 min.)
- Store in the refrigerator for 1-2 months.
- Add one spoon of syrup per glass - you might want to try it to see if the strength is right for you. Then, pour on the carbonated water. Serve with a stirrer, or garnished skewer for stirring, and a lemon coin.
- Squeeze the lemon coin in the "soda" before drinking.
Yeilds about 1 cup syrup.