One of the joys of the warmer seasons is the abundance of fresh produce, not least of all, those little jewels the berries and close cousins like the aggregate fruits. Having grown up in a region known for fabulous berries, in a valley renowned, in fact, for farming them in its fertile volcanic soil in the Evergreen state, I know well enough the labor that it takes to successfully farm, pick, process and sell them, never mind shipping them intact anywhere, given their tender sensitivity and fleeting prime. But I certainly found my way past the sweaty, low wage, arm-aching, thorn-scratched, and slug-tormented frustrations of a short-time field hand to renew my love of fresh berries.
I have long since confessed to you that, despite their being among the easiest to farm and to pick, blueberries remain my most hated fruit, and I dislike pretty equally their flavor, smell and texture despite all attempts to convince me they are Superfood and worthy of desire. I am not a big fan, in fact, of any of the round, popping sorts of berries that are similar in my mind to blueberries in any way—currants, gooseberries, huckleberries, and so forth. I’m not that egalitarian. But the berries that I do enjoy, I gladly indulge in enjoying in quantity when they’re at their peak. I seldom tire of strawberries or of those magnificent rose relatives, the blackberries, raspberries, salmonberries, black raspberries and all of their delicious ilk. Ahhh, berry good!
One of the nicest things about really fine, fresh produce, of course, is that it tastes so good whether you do anything to or with it, or not. Straight out of the field, straight into my mouth. Bright, juicy, flavorful little pieces of heaven. Much as I happily enjoyed that dessert combination of my youth, angel food cake with berries and whipped cream, I think I might consider the berries the angel food part more than the cake. Berries in cream, whipped or not, are also a spectacular treat when I can get my hands on a dish, with or without a cake foundation.
The berries are marvelous as individual sorts or in happy combinations. Whole or mashed, sliced or diced. Superb in jams and sauces or salsas. Fabulous in smoothies. Outstanding when added to salads. Unbeatable in pies. One of the most delicious accompaniments to savory foods, especially something like some magnificent wild salmon or game, whether processed in some recipe or just eaten fresh alongside the fish or meat. Sweet and bright.
Oh, and berries make dandy liqueurs. Berries, sugar, vodka. In that order, in declining quantities, in a sealed jar or bottle. Bunch of weeks or months, shaking it up gently from time to time, while keeping it in a nice cool, dark spot between stirrings until the time seems right; strain the niceness and enjoy. Of course, it works fine without booze, too. Berries, some nice sparkling water and some sweetening.
These little gems are delicate. They are so fine in their pristine state that it would be wrong to over-process them. Don’t be a killjoy. There’s really no recipe here for success; in fact, the best so-called recipes for using fresh berries mostly leave them unsullied by cooking and doing much of anything other than stirring them in with other good things. What are you waiting for? If the season’s on, get thee to the nearest farmer’s market and stock up on glorious fresh berries. If they’re not in season, I apologize for your sorrow, but I must encourage you to make the most of preserves and frozen berries. Yep, they freeze well when properly treated. But my friends, do not slouch. Run, quickly, and get some berries. You can thank me later.
I love Berries – and am about to have some for breakfast with yogurt:)x
I hope your breakfast was as rewarding as it sounded! 🙂 xo
I’m going to have to try that recipe! We’ve got raspberries growing in our yard.
Those were the berries Mom loved growing most—mainly, I suspect, because Gramps grew them too and she got her starter canes from him. Of course, I had NO complaints about that! Especially since she was the world champ at making fresh raspberry pie!!! Uh-oh. I’m drooling on the keyboard again. 😉
Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had raspberry pie? FOREVER!! They are so dear at the store. We have so few canes in our new garden that we basically graze each evening after dinner and have a handful each. I, of course, take special care that the handfuls are equal in size. 🙄
Oh, I wish I could send you one of Mom’s classics! She made the most amazingly flaky, tender, buttery crust, and the filling was a combination of a lightly-sweet jam-like cooked portion and heaps of fresh berries glued together with it. 😀 But you know, a handful nibbled after dinner is *not* a bad substitute!!!
STOP! you’re killin’ me! oh man, pie….. [sob]
Know what’s particularly heartbreaking? The brutal winter killed 75% of the tips of last year’s growth. So a much smaller harvest this summer. Hopefully the fall batch will be OK.
Right now mulberries are ripening and usually found in forest preserves. So ie FREE! I love going picking for these.
Yippee! I’ve only rarely gotten to even taste mulberries, but enjoyed them very much. Must find a source, I guess!
I now watch the roadsides. . If the pavement is dotted with dark purple spots, mulberries are there!
Thanks for the tip! 😀
I love berries, my friend, and this post has my mouth watering. Although, I will admit that I do also love blueberries, along with strawberries and raspberries. Some that you mentioned I haven’t tried, but I agree, berries and whipped cream on some angel food cake…well, yum! 🙂 Oh, and berries and booze, that made me smile and I’m sure it’s pretty tasty and refreshing on a hot summer’s day! Thanks for sharing this berry-licious post! ♥
I’m delighted that there are so many fans of blueberries out there so that they don’t go to waste. I feel I can do all of you a favor by leaving them to you! 😀 My favorite liqueur that I’ve ever made with that simple method was nectarine, but berries are never amiss, either! 🙂 I’ll be gone on the big holiday from tomorrow, so I won’t have much opportunity to do anything other than get posts up where possible, but I’ll look forward to getting back in touch when we return! Lots of love in the meantime,
I eat berries and cherries as much as possible. Please don’t feel bad about not liking blueberries. I will eat yours for you. I love them with plain Greek yogurt and usually eat more than my fair share.
What an excellent way to balance the universe. Thanks for taking care of that for me! 😀