The following 101, a snow cone recipe involving real snow and homemade simple syrup, comes from HOMEGROWN's flock tender, Jennifer, whose favorite flavor combo is half coconut, half banana.
I usually think of sno-cones as the ideal treat for a blisteringly hot day, but they’re perfect for winter, too—and somehow even sweeter—when you make them with actual snow.
Mother Nature certainly trumped manmade yesterday, when the blizzard of 2015 dumped two feet of some of the softest, lightest, fluffiest snow I’ve ever seen right on my back stairs, ripe for the harvesting. Fouling up that pristine powder with high-fructose corn syrup wasn’t an option, so I set about making a couple of all-natural simple syrups worthy of real snow (with a "W") cones.
Parents, making your own sno-cones is not only a kid-friendly activity but also a great way to keep pint-sized culinarians occupied on snow days. (These simple syrups work nicely in adult sno-cones, AKA cocktails, too.) My beet simple syrup and cranberry-orange simple syrup turned out as vibrant as they were delicious, but the possibilities are endless. If you try another flavor combo, post your proportions below and share your success!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
» an ice cream scoop
» simple syrup (see below)
FOR BEET SIMPLE SYRUP
» 5 or 6 beets, peeled
» 3 cups organic cane sugar (You could use less, but this ratio yields a nice flavor.)
Put the beets and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Add just enough water to cover. Simmer over medium heat until the beets soften a bit, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the beets onto a plate to cool. (I saved these to make Kirsten’s orange-spiked beet and walnut spread.) Strain the syrup into a container and let cool to room temperature. This simple syrup will keep in the fridge for a week or so.
FOR CRANBERRY ORANGE SIMPLE SYRUP
» 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (I used frozen)
» peel from half an orange
» zest from the other half
» 1 cup organic cane sugar
» 1 cup water
Put the cranberries, orange peel, zest, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer until most of the cranberries have burst, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. You can reserve the fruit for other kitchen projects; I saved mine for a twist on mulled wine. Strain the liquid into a container and let cool to room temperature. This simple syrup will keep in the fridge for a week or so.
WHAT TO DO
1. Locate some fresh, undisturbed snow and scoop away. (Yep, you're using actual outdoor precipitation, so find the freshest stuff you can and proceed at your own risk.)
2. Make haste when adding syrup. Snow melts fast!
3. Mix sparingly to stir your flavoring into the ice. (The more you mix, the faster the snow melts!)
MORE HOMEGROWN GOODNESS
Got a question or another syrup recipe to share? Post it below and join the conversation!
• Find family farmer–grown beets and other simple-syrup fixings near you.
• For more all-natural flavors, check out Cynthia's excellent Simple and Flavored Syrups 101.
• And her Homemade Chocolate Syrup 101.
• Don't miss Black Cat Cottage's Homemade Extracts 101.
• Or the Sweetened Condensed Milk 101.
• You might also be interested in Christa's Maple Tapping and Sugaring 101.
• You can always find more things to cook, preserve, make, craft, plant, grow, and scoop in the HOMEGROWN 101 library!