Happy New Year! I’m not making resolutions for myself, I’m making plans instead. I posted the other day about putting in a little orchard starting with about 6 apple trees, and I’ve mentioned getting a couple of laying hens, but today I’m thinking about berries.
The snowy, wind-whipped section of our backyard above is where I want to plant a berry patch. Here’s what it will include:
- 3 Heritage Red Raspberries
- 3 Jewel Black Raspberries
- 3 Anne Raspberries (white)
- 2 Royal Purple Raspberries
- 2 Saskatoon Blueberries
- 1 Boysenberry
- 1 Huckleberry
I’ve selected berries that are supposed to be good for smaller, home gardens and that will be ripe at different times, to spread them out over the summer and until the first frost. I was planning to skip blueberries, since they need more acidic soil, and I’ve had trouble keeping my hydrangeas blue (although the purple they’ve turned has been pretty). However, Saskatoon blueberries are not true blueberries, and therefore don’t need the acidic soil. I figured it couldn’t hurt to give them a try.
My mom reminded me how much I hated picking up the cut off raspberry brambles each year. But, I guess like with most things, the memory of the sweet berries overshadowed the memory of the sharp thorns. Not to mention that our patch will be much smaller than the one on the farm.
BEFORE: Tomatoes, basil and lettuce from my garden.
Just when I start to feel like it’s fall, the ripe tomatoes in my garden remind me that it’s still summer! Tonight I was so happy to pick the first lettuce from my second planting, after a few weeks without lettuce in our salads. The tomatoes are finally beginning to ripen in large quantities, enough to make sauce for the two of us with leftovers. The basil is out of control, so big, and I know that I have to spend some quality time making and freezing pesto soon. I added some of Chris and Melissa’s garlic, fresh pasta and cheese, and I added leftover Maine lobster to Ed’s plate, since his mom was so kind as to bring home some lobsters for him. (I’m allergic to lobster, but I was very happy with the vegetarian version.) Ed’s mom also brought us a 5 pound box of Maine blueberries, some of which I froze and some of which I turned into Blueberry Buckle. It’s cooling now and will make a great breakfast for the rest of the week. Or dessert. Or snack.
AFTER: Tomatoes, basil and lettuce from my garden.
With the ripe, juicy peaches we’ve got right now, I just had to preserve some. I had wanted to try making strawberry jam with honey, but the season ended before I had a chance. So, I decided to try it with peaches. Add a touch of cinnamon, and I’ve got Honey and Cinnamon Peach Preserves. I used the three-day method, with steeping and plumping overnight. I like that method because it takes just a little bit of time over three days.
We’ve also got some great local blueberries, so I mixed some together with the peaches for Blueberry Peach Preserves. I made quick preserves, skipping the steeping and plumping overnight. I used sugar in this recipe.
I make preserves because I like the thinner consistency. It’s still thick enough to put on bread, but thin enough to use as a topping on ice cream.
Honey and Cinnamon Peach Preserves
- 2 pounds ripe peaches
- 1 cup honey
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
- Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl. When the water reaches a rolling boil, dunk in the peaches. Let them simmer for about 20 seconds, then place the peaches in an ice water bath.
- Peel the peaches. The peels should slide off easily. Pit and slice the peaches into 1/4 inch slices.
- Combine sliced peaches, honey and cinnamon in a nonreactive bowl. Stir to combine, cover and let steep in the refrigerator overnight.
- Place peaches in a large pot. Stir in lemon juice.
- Bring to a rapid boil and stir frequently until it gets thick. This should take about 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and skim off any foam.
- Allow to cool, then cover and let steep in the refrigerator overnight.
- Sterilize jars and lids and keep them in the hot water until you’re ready for them.
- Return the preserves to a boil. Ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
- Screw on caps and process for 10 minutes.
Makes about 2 pints.
Blueberry Peach Preserves
- 4 cups blueberries
- 4 cups peaches, peeled and cut into slices
- 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
- 5 1/2 cups sugar
- Sterilize jars and lids and keep them in hot water until you’re ready to use them.
- Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a rolling boil, and cook to the gel point. You can add commercial pectin if you want a thicker jam.
- Ladel into hot jars, screw on caps and process for 10 minutes.
Makes about 4 pints.
- 4 ripe peaches, the first of the season that my mom and I picked yesterday, peeled and sliced
- 1 pint Native blueberries (from our distant cousins about 45 mins away)
- 1 pint our own red raspberries
Mix fruit together, cover and let marinate. Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, supper or dessert.
This recipe is inspired by my mom’s famous blueberry coffee cake that she always makes for us when the blueberries are at their peak. My version incorporates some local honey.
Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a medium springform pan. In a medium bowl, combine and set aside:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
In a stand mixer, cream on medium speed for about 3 minutes:
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
On low speed, add:
Alternately add to mixer in small amounts:
- flour mixture
- 1/2 cup milk
Turn off mixer and scrape down sides. Gently fold in:
- 3 cups fresh blueberries (it’s just as good if you use fresh or frozen wild Maine blueberries)
Pour into a springform pan and set aside. Make the struesel topping by crumbling the following together with your fingers:
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 6 Tbsp butter
Sprinkle struesel on top of the blueberry batter. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and remove sides of springform pan.
I really like how the blueberries settle to the bottom, and it’s like you get a layer of blueberries, a layer of cake, and a layer of streusel on top. You can also make this cake in a glass pan, so you can see the purple-blue bottom.