In my humble opinion, summer isn't complete without a trip to a raspberry patch. In my younger days, picking raspberries was a hot and scratchy experience. Happily, a trip to High Ridge Farm and Forest offers an abundance of raspberries, with no scratchy bits!
An hour's work netted me 14 boxes of these beautiful bites of delicious. Now, off to the kitchen!
I decided a cool and refreshing drink to rehydrate is just what was needed after my berry picking expedition. I love the tart yet sweet flavour of raspberries. When you marry that to citrus and herbs, you have a summer winner!
Lime Raspberry Basil Flavoured Water
(Makes 1 large glass)
Crush 6 raspberries in the bottom of a tall glass.
Add the juice and zest of 1/2 of a lime.
Wash and tear 4-5 basil leaves. Add to glass. I used Thai basil, but it works with sweet basil as well.
Add 1 cup of ice and 1 cup of water to the glass.
Add another 6 whole raspberries.
Stir well. Garnish with a basil leaf and a slice of lime for the party look.
P.S. If you love the lime zip, add more lime zest and juice.
If lemon is more your speed, try this raspberry flavoured water to rehydrate on those steamy days.
Raspberry, Mint and Lemon Balm Flavoured Water
Crush 6 raspberries in the bottom of a large glass.
Add the zest and juice of 1/4 of a lemon.
Wash and tear 2-3 large mint leaves and 2-4 lemon balm leaves. Add to glass. (I have a herb garden with lemon balm. Leave this out if you don't have it).
Fill glass with 1 cup of ice and 1 cup of water.
Add 4-6 whole raspberries.
Garnish with mint if you want a fancy drink.
Stir well and enjoy!
P.S. The longer the fruit and herbs are in the water, the stronger the flavour. I often make a pitcher and keep it in the fridge. If you add slices of lemon or lime, remove those after a couple of hours, as they will make your drink bitter.
A food safety note: Always keep water flavoured with fruit and herbs cold. Discard after 3 days.
Now that I am rehydrated, it's on to the fun of what to do with all my raspberries. I have two priorities for my harvest: immediate enjoyment and storage for later.
Immediate enjoyment is the first priority. Who doesn't love a handful of fresh berries, no matter what the kind? So a box was tucked right into the fridge for snacking.
Second task: muffins. Those made with fresh raspberries are a limited time offer, so today was the day. Check out my recipe for these fresh raspberry muffins.
Next up: Jam!
Homemade jam is not as hard as you might think. And yes, it does taste different than the stuff you buy. I love raspberry jam on my peanut butter sandwiches, but there are lots of other tasty places to put a spoonful of jam:
Stirred into plain yogurt.
Mixed with other berries instead of sugar in my fruit crisp.
Used to flavour and sweeten my raspberry viniagrette dressing.
And one of my personal favourites...heated slightly and drizzled over the top of a really great chocolate brownie. Let me just say. Yum.
And, the last of my berries, into the freezer. I put the berries on big trays and freeze them in a single layer. Once they are frozen, I transfer them to freezer bags. And yes, I use freezer bags, since you can suck the air out of them (no freezer burn or ice buildup inside the bags of my fruit please) and they take up less space in my freezer. However, I have turned into my grandmother - I wash and reuse freezer bags. So at any given time in my kitchen, you will see a row of bags that are drying after being washed in hot, soapy water.
Frozen berries are a delight to use - muffins, fruit crumble, mixed with yogurt, added to cereal, made into ice cream, fruit purèe, smoothies or fruit pops. The possibilities are truly endless.
But best of all, those frozen raspberries, eaten when the wind is howling and the snow is falling outside my windows, are reminders that hot summer days will be here again before I know it.