Sunday, July 10, 2005

Berry Good!

Saturday morning shone bright and clear and none too humid... perfect weather for being outside.

The lovely Phoenix joined me for a hike down to the farmers' market, where we found plenty of fresh veggies to fill the refrigerator (broccoli, zucchini, golden beets, parsley). We returned home to wait for my Wonderful Parents to pick us up for an outing to the berry farm south of town.

The Chef Mother and I have been out there before in previous summers because the farm has a wide variety of crops, and we can usually spend a morning picking blueberries and multiple kinds of raspberries and get all our berry-picking for the year done in one fell swoop. And if we have extra hands, such as Phoenix's willing ones, we can pick A LOT.

Two hours later, we had nearly two gallons of blueberries, four pints of red raspberries, probably three to four pints of black raspberries, and a quart of purple raspberries to divide between the three of us. The Chef Mother took her fair share, I sorted plenty out for Phoenix, and then I pondered what to do with the rest.

First of all, I had to freeze some blueberries because there's nothing quite so wonderful as having good locally-grown blueberries in your freezer when you're craving blueberry muffins in the middle of winter. So I filled a large cookie sheet with berries and stuck it in the freezer to let them harden (with the intent of transferring them to plastic freezer bags later).

Then, I decided that instead of making just a tiny batch of red raspberry jam... why not throw all three kinds of raspberries together for a triple play sort of jam? Yum. The resulting preserves were on the runny side (as I sweetened them with white grape juice concentrate instead of cups and cups of sugar), but with a hint of rose geranium and lime, the tart berries took on a rich depth with just the right amount of sweetness. (And oh my! are they good on pancakes!) Phoenix stayed to help with the jam (and did the bulk of the stirring, bless her heart), so now she has a jar of jam with her name on it to prove that she's learned yet another fine cooking technique.

I still have some red raspberries left and am contemplating making a raspberry vinegar. I also have plenty of black raspberries left. Should I make a pie or a crumble? Should I show some self-control and freeze them? Or will I make a granita with them?

And as for the blueberries, I still have half a bucket full! Some are going into a blueberry-coconut soup for an Indian meal, some will probably make it into lavender-blueberry muffins, and I'm not sure what I'll do with the rest. (A pie? A buckle? More liqueur?)

Stay tuned for more interesting developments.

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