You know, when I was growing up far away in Washington, I thought Oregon was weird. It was clearly the least cool of the PNW states (because I had friends and family who lived in neighboring Idaho, so it was the second coolest). But then I moved here to go to college and now I pretty much never want to leave. Oregon snuck in and stole my heart. And now it’s kind of ridiculous how much I love everything Oregon. I get a little proud of all our berries. And our hazelnuts. And our mountains and rivers and our cities. Because Portland is seriously the bomb-diggity. And there’s hardly anything more Oregonian than a marionberry-hazelnut combination. (Oregon’s Willamette Valley produces 98% of the United State’s hazelnut crop. And marionberries were developed at OSU as part of a blackberry breeding program.)
Anyway, as you know, one of my favorite things to do here is pick berries. So many berries. Until our freezer and our stomachs are full. And Steve loves the marionberries. So we pick enough to make a pie. And I made a pie that was a marionberry-hazelnut pie and it was a great idea, except that it was a little too liquid and never stood up to the task of being a pie filling. But it gave me the idea to make a marionberry-hazelnut syrup for pancakes.
Making syrups is super easy if you have a saucepan. Usually I just cook the berries down for 20-30 minutes and leave the syrup a little lumpy because I like that texture. With the marionberries, though, I wanted a smoother texture and I wanted to strain out the seeds. So after cooking the syrup down, I put it in the blender to smooth it out. And then I strained it through a flour sifter. Because it’s silly to have more than one straining apparatus.
Marionberry & Hazelnut Syrup
- 4 cups fresh or frozen marionberries
- 1/2 cup hazelnut syrup
Place the marionberries in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes, until berries are broken down and nearly liquid (there will still be lumps). Add the hazelnut syrup and remove from heat. Stir together and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Pour berry mixture into blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes, until completely liquid. Pour through a strainer to remove seeds. Serve over peaches as a pancake topping for a very Oregonian summer brunch everyone is sure to love. Because you know we also love our brunch here.
If your syrup is too tart, you can add more hazelnut syrup, or maple syrup to sweeten without changing the flavor as much.
You can store remaining syrup in the fridge for a week or two. I also froze half the batch in a glass jar for later use. If you are going to freeze your syrup, remember to leave 1/2 inch of room at the top to keep your jar from breaking.