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Berries, Booze, Sweets and Syrups

paw paw ice cream recipe

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

This is the dessert section, although since my favorite dessert is simply wild berries and cream or berries and a simple syrup, there are more wild berries¬†recipes than anything else on this page. I use syrups to make homemade sodas, sorbets, granitas or to flavor ice creams; they’re also great for glazing meats. You’ll also find dessert recipes for wild nuts and a few other random things, like liqueur recipes.


Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Wintergreen Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips

A cooling wintergreen ice cream made with fresh wintergreen berries, studded with bittersweet chocolate chips.

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Wild Mint Leaf Ice Cream

A mint ice cream made by steeping fresh mint leaves in cream overnight, giving the ice cream a fuller, more herby mint flavor you can’t get with extract.

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Wild Ginger Ice Cream

Made with wild ginger, you’ll never taste anything quite like it.

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Paw Paw Ice Cream

Paw paws are native to the Eastern third of the United States, and have a beguiling, sweet aroma and a rich custardy texture. They make a fine ice cream, too.

Oregano Ice Cream

Yep, you read that right: Oregano ice cream. It’s wonderful if you get the oregano in late winter or early spring, before it gets harsh and resiny. Drizzle with black honey and you have a Greek treat!

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Black Walnut Ice Cream

This is the best black walnut ice cream you will ever have. I guarantee it. My recipe has a secret to it. Read on to find out what it is…

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Pine Nut Ice Cream

Almost as good as the black walnut ice cream, pine nut ice cream tastes very Italian. Be sure to toast the pine nuts first.

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Elderberry Ice Cream

I add a little creme fraiche to the ice cream to make it tangy. This recipe works well with salal berries, too.

Photo by Hank Shaw

Blackberry Panna Cotta

Kinda like a dessert version of a blended blackberry yogurt, only creamier and smoother. This works with any bramble fruit


Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Chinese Plum Sauce

A rich, tangy, spicy-sweet sauce made from wild plums. This is like Chinese BBQ sauce, only better. Slather it on anything, but it goes really well with duck.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Wild Cranberry Sauce

Wild cranberry sauce, made with maple syrup. Perfect for the holidays.
Gooseberry Sorbet

Gooseberry Sorbet

A tart yet smooth sorbet that tastes heavily of wild gooseberries.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Mulberry or Blackberry Sorbet

Mulberries, blackberries, really most berries will work with this recipe. It’s my standard for a sorbet.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Fig Jam with Ouzo

An adult jam, this is very Greek. Figs cooked down and then laced with Greek ouzo. Opa!


Photo by Hank Shaw

Acorn Maple Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread cookies made with acorn flour. These are full of energy and they store for a long time.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Black Walnut Snowball Cookies

A family favorite, this is a Christmas cookie with lots of names. Mexican tea cakes is another one.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Fennel Cookies

I call these “Bacchus Biscuits,” and they are a fantastic cookie that isn’t too sweet. I make them for on-the-road breakfasts.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Acorn Cake

Like an Italian chestnut cake, only made with acorn flour. It’s a very moist and a little crumbly cake.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Huckleberry Buttermilk Cake

A lovely recipe adapted from my friend Heidi Swanson.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Huckleberry Muffins

Tangy and sweet, I love these with blueberries and currants, too.

Sykomaitha: Greek Fig Cakes

Not exactly baked, but these little cakes are great traveling food. Or dessert.


Photo by Holly A. Heyser

How to Make Elderberry Wine

I’ve been making fruit wines for close to 20 years, and while my method is not simple, it produces a superior wine you can even give to snooty wine people!
Photo courtesy of

Brewing Gruit and Other Herbal Beers

My thoughts on making beer with wild, native ingredients.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Making Gose Beer

This is a light, slightly tangy and salty beer that is fantastic in summertime. Like a Michelada without adding anything.
Photo by Elise Bauer


This is a Sardinian liqueur made from myrtle berries. It has a completely unique flavor I can’t get enough of.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Elderberry Liqueur

A standby in my house. It doubles as after-dinner drink and medicine to boost your immune system. Not bad, eh?
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Elderflower Liqueur

This is a similar liqueur you make with the flowers from an elderberry bush. It does not keep as as the berry liqueur, however.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Elderflower Champagne

A lighter drink from elderflowers. You can make this like a beer, mead or simple cider. I go through all options here.


Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Hollyleaf Redberry Syrup

Yes, I know. Pretty esoteric. But if you live on the West Coast, this is a common July berry. Mix this syrup with buttermilk for a cool sherbert.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Blackberry Syrup

This is your basic syrup recipe for any bramble fruit. It’s good on pancakes, mixed with seltzer or vodka.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Fig Syrup

It’s a pain in the ass to make, but the resulting syrup is divine. ¬†
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

How to Make Elderberry Syrup

If you don’t like alcohol, make this syrup as an immune booster. Or dessert.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Elderflower Cordial

Syrup from the flowers of the elderberry. Like a homemade St. Germain base.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Prickly Pear Syrup

I love this in margaritas. It’s hot cactus on cactus action…
Photo by Hank Shaw

Spruce or Fir Tip Syrup

A very delicate syrup good in martinis, or to glaze gamebirds with.

2 responses to “Berries, Booze, Sweets and Syrups”

  1. Anne Purvis

    Hi Hank…Like your site quite a lot…there are loads of food-related ones out there,
    and you do an above and beyond excellent job!
    Made the root beer syrup to rave reviews.
    I was wondering if you’ve ever experimented w/ ginger syrup?
    I have a few times…but mystified as to why:
    -the syrup doesn’t thicken like the root beer syrup, tho I use same amount of liquid to sugar ratio as well as boiling time.
    -ginger infusion seems to dissipate flavor-wise, in a short period of time, even tho it’s sealed and refrigerated. (my recipe is sugar, H2O, white pepper…I add lime juice when i’m adding club soda to it for a drink)
    Today i’ll try making it w/ keeping the cover on pot….maybe the oils escaping in steam will ultimately make the flavor dissipate w/time…tho it won’t thicken at all because the water won’t be able to evaporate.)
    Loads of science involved even in the simplest of recipes!
    Any 2 cents from you would be appreciated.

  2. Steve Sunde

    I grew up on the beaches of Puget Sound– so did my dad and grandpa and great grandpa. We forage, fish and hunt. Now I’m in Ashland, OR and have discovered elderberries and turkeys. But– I also found a patch of Oregon Grape like I’ve never seen.
    Aside from schnapps/liqueur — got any ideas? I know it’s considered a powerful medicinal berry– some Salish claim it was a cure for PSP if eaten in quantity– and they were mixed with salal berries, too. But– I’m hoping you may have a contemporary recipe or two.
    Got the book and have given some copies away.

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