strawberry, black pepper & thyme cordial recipe

Every time we shop at the Asian grocery store the kids always nag at me for a drink. There’s something about the bright packaging and weird shaped cartons that seems to make them want it more than the standard orange juice seen elsewhere. Occasionally, I mean very occasionally I give in and buy them one with no colourings and the least amount of additives and nasties. But, as a lot of what's printed on the label is unreadable unless you are Korean, Chinese or Thai, its pretty hit and miss with the flavourings let alone the rest! Recently on one of those rare days I gave in, Ada was adamant that she wanted the lovely pink labeled drink with some odd looking pink fruit on the front. I had a fair idea of what it contained and told her that she may like to choose another one as she probably wouldn't like that one… she stomped her feet and swore black and blue it was the one she wanted. Okay, my darling child.
We get home and for the first few sips she pretended to be enjoying it, to save face you see. When she could take it no more she admitted that she had made the wrong choice and maybe next time 'I should listen to you mum'. No really? You think? Ha, some things kids just have to learn for themselves eh. The sour/sweet umeboshi plum drink was happily passed onto Si who did his best to finish it. An acquired taste that one.

Yesterday when we were going through the exact same scenario, but this time with both kids in tow I came up with a great idea to distract them from the fluro lights of the drinks fridge. I’d make them some home made cordial with all natural ingredients using the strawberries we had just bought, as soon as we get out of the shop and get home. Call it bribery, whatever. I don’t care, it worked.
I’ve had the idea to try out this recipe for the past month or so, so was stoked to finally have the ingredients and motivation to pull it off. I decided to take the essence of the original recipe, but change it up somewhat; instead of marinating the berries in copious amounts of sugar and then straining the resulting liquid, I decided to make a black pepper and thyme infused syrup to mix through the whole blended berries. That way the entire berry would be used, adding a little fibre also. It may still seem like a lot of sugar to use, but as you are the judge of how much syrup is used in the final drink it doesn’t have to be a lot in the end, if you don’t want it to be.
I seem to have a little obsession with strawberry, black pepper and thyme combos at the moment and if you are yet to try it out this is a great recipe to start with. If you like the flavours a bit more mellow simply use less syrup, adding more sparkling mineral water when mixing up the drinks to serve. And I’ve not tried it yet but I have a feeling the syrup would be just as delicious drizzled over pancakes or thick Greek yoghurt.

strawberry, black pepper & thyme cordial
Using this amount of black pepper makes an ever so slight tingle in the back of your throat, which is really nice and not hot in any way. My kids happily drank it, just so you know. Soda water can be used in place of sparkling mineral water if preferred.
makes 3 1/2 cups of syrup enough to make 8-12 diluted drinks

  • 500g fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 1 cup (200g) organic raw sugar
  • 1 cup (250ml) filtered water
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • small handful of fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
  • sparkling mineral water, to serve

Blend strawberries in a food processor until smooth. Combine sugar, water, ground black pepper and thyme in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to infuse and cool for 10 minutes. Strain mixture to remove thyme and most of the black pepper, add to the strawberry puree along with the vanilla essence and pulse to combine. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove most of the seeds, place into a glass jar and chill until required.

To serve spoon a little of the strawberry mixture, to taste, into glasses and top up with sparkling mineral water. Any left over syrup will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.

This recipe has been shared as part of Sweet New Zealand being hosted by Sue @ Couscous & consciousness. 

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  • Reply
    October 8, 2011 at 6:19 am

    Wow,,,,sounds amazing. As soon as I can get my hands on some Kiwi strawberries I will be giving it a go. I am also thinking that this would flavour combo would make quite an amazing ice cream…so thanks for the inspiration and the delicious looking drink.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2011 at 6:30 am

    Oh yes it would make the perfect ice cream or sorbet flavour! I forgot to say too, but I imagine the cordial would be nice as a drinks mixer if your into that sort of thing… a little vodka perhaps?

  • Reply
    October 8, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Wow!! this is inspiring. Haven't tried strawberry thyme cordial before bit this looks reaaly great. Nice post 🙂

  • Reply
    October 8, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Emma I love your take on this drink! Plus your photos are just stunning. Cheers 🙂

  • Reply
    Jesica @ pencil Kitchen
    October 8, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Bribery! I think this strawberry cordial is much a healthier choice than other briberies 🙂

  • Reply
    October 9, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Am—aaayyy-zing!! Trying it this week. Thank you again and again for your unbelievable recipes! xo m.

  • Reply
    October 9, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    This sounds unbelievably good. I think I prefer your method too, with the whole fruit. I've always been a little wary of the strawberry/black pepper combo (maybe cause I'm not even really a pepper fan) but this luscious pink colour is changing my mind…

    Sometimes kids do need to learn things on their own! I think I know which pink drink I'd rather have too.

  • Reply
    foodie @ tastingspot
    October 9, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    looks amazing… love your pictures

  • Reply
    Jennifer (Delicieux)
    October 10, 2011 at 12:16 am

    This sounds and looks amazing!!!! I love the idea of strawberry cordial.

    I've also never tried strawberries and thyme together. Thanks for the heads up, I will have to try this combination as I love strawberries and it's always great to kick things up a notch.

    By the way, absolutely STUNNING photos! I love the photo of the strawberries and peppercorns on the board.

  • Reply
    October 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    A big thank you for sharing this mix. My daughter has g6pd ( a deficiency in a certain enzyme in the body) that makes her overreactive to soy and by products, sulfa, fava beans, etc…
    Because of this, I am also very careful with food packages that do not have English translations. This will be another new treat!Thanks again!

  • Reply
    October 10, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Kia Ora 🙂
    This sounds like a refreshing drink..I am liking the sound of the strawberry/black pepper combo.
    Visiting via Kiwi at heart, you have a great blog.


  • Reply
    October 10, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    mmmmm berry-licious!

  • Reply
    October 11, 2011 at 12:36 am

    What a beautiful cordial! I almost never take time out of my day to make gorgeous, creative drinks, but this one just screams spring! Love it.

  • Reply
    October 11, 2011 at 2:10 am

    My kids don't like sparkling drinks (except for Ginger beer the boy and Peachy the girl, but those are rare treats indeed), but they love colourful juices and smoothies. Colours are good, if they are natural :-), and we try to through down as much colour we can :-). But not decent strawberries here for a few more weeks…, love the idea of pepper and thyme 🙂

  • Reply
    October 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    What kind of syrup do you put in the bottom of the glass, Please???

  • Reply
    October 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Sounds perfect, ei excited we have strawberry season now

  • Reply
    October 11, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    wow.. that looks so good. I'm going to try the receipe on my daughters and hunny I think we'll all enjoy it

  • Reply
    The InTolerant Chef
    October 11, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Ooooh how awesome is this! I'm thinking a good slug of gin would make it extra special indeed. And when will they learn, mother really does know best! The secret is staying calm and not smiling smugly when they admit you're right (or at least while they're watching) 🙂

  • Reply
    October 12, 2011 at 12:06 am

    I love this flavor combination! Unfortunately, I'll have to wait (a long time) for fresh strawberries…sigh. Gorgeous photos!

  • Reply
    October 12, 2011 at 1:43 am

    @ Anonymous, sorry if that wasn't clear, I'll go back and re-word that so it is. The syrup is the strawberry mixture that you have just made. Put as much of it as you like into a glass and then top up with sparkling mineral water. Hope that helps.

  • Reply
    October 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Looks stunning! Beautiful colour. And I love your photography, specially the strawberries! This drink looks delicious, I've been down the strawberry/pepper road, but haven't tried adding thyme. thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply
    October 12, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    What a fabulous recipe! Will be perfect as the weather starts to heat up. Now if only the strawberry season would hurry up and get here!!

  • Reply
    Couscous & Consciousness
    October 13, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Wow this sounds amazing – I haven't had my first strawberries of the season yet, but as soon as I do I will definitely be trying this. Love that you used the whole fruit, and I'm fascinated by the strawberry, pepper & thyme combo.

    Thanks for sharing with Sweet New Zealand this month.

    Sue xo

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