Well, we have made it through the big Fourth of July celebrations and now we are deep into the season of vacations, kids college and summer get togethers…what better way to deal with the fun that ensues than to go buy fresh berries??
Berries are available year round, being grown in warmer climates when we are enduring not so warm weather, but nothing beats homegrown berries. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries…the mere mention of them makes my mouth water!
Strawberries grow low to the ground and can be –literally – a pain to pick. Blueberries, however, are grown on bushes and are in my opinion much easier to pick. I remember my grandmother taking me to pick blueberries in East Otto, of all places. As with any sort of “you pick” fruit farms, I’m always glad the picker isn’t weighed before and after the picking! It is just so tempting to pop those fresh ripe berries into your mouth, it becomes a reflex action! One in the basket, one in my mouth…
I love blueberries any way they are prepared…in a fruit bowl, in a pie, as jam or in a big ole’ blueberry muffin (sided with a hot cup of coffee, of course, to be enjoyed after I‘ve been up for three or four hours!).
Blueberries fall into the group of fruits considered “super-fruits” because of their high antioxidant value. This makes them extra appealing to me because anytime I can sneak something healthy into my menus, I consider it a bonus!
As with all produce, berries are the best when they are fresh, but they can be frozen very easily by simply rinsing them, laying them out in a single layer on a baking tray and freezing until hard. Once they are frozen, they can be placed in a zip lock bag and returned to the freezer for future use. By freezing them this way, you can simply remove the portion you want and return the rest to the freezer; the berries don’t need to be thawed before using, either. By adding them to your application frozen, they will retain their shape and not mush and turn everything their color!
I always try to keep fruit on hand, preserved in this manner; you can freeze most any berry like this. Frozen berries make a fun alternative to ice cubes, too. I like to garnish punch bowls and cocktails with a few frozen berries to add both color and coolness to my beverages. I also make ice cubes and punch rings out of a light colored fruit juice or lemonade to which I have added berries. By using juice rather than water to make the ice, your drinks will not be watered down when the ice melts!
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My favorite Raspberry Pie
Pastry for double crust pie (either homemade or store bought!)
- 1 C sugar
- ¼ C flour*
- ½ t finely shredded lemon peal
- Dash salt
- 5 C fresh or fresh frozen raspberries
- 2 t lemon juice
- 1 T butter
In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, lemon peel and salt. Add sugar mixture to raspberries and toss to coat fruit. Fill a pastry lined pie plate with the berry mixture. Drizzle with lemon juice and dot with butter. Adjust top crust and flute to seal edge.
Bake at 375* for 40-45 minutes, until crust is golden. Allow to cool to room temperature before cutting.
* If you are using frozen berries, increase flour to 1/3 cup!