Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spring Berries and Flex-Recipes


   Spring berries have arrived! The sides of our herbal garden are teaming with wild thorny vines sporting plump juicy goodness. Over the past several days we harvested a cup here and a cup there..hardly enough not to just swirl into some yogurt and devour (we did do some of that:). Having enough berries for a favored recipe can be quite a challenge..I love berry fresh berry pies and jams..but there's not always enough to go around. After many seasons of berry experimentation, the farm boy and I have good news and great recipes to share!

    Let's address pie. I love pie..cold, fresh whipped cream melting down a slice..yum. Okay, my berries tend to come in about a cupful at a time; no where near enough for a traditional pie. To work this one, we need a flex-recipe to help us adjust to what we have available. I like to work with home made pie crust, but you can surely use whatever crust you like. We have tried biscuit dough, pie dough, and crepes for this.

Fresh Fruit Pie Flex-Recipe

for each 1 cup of fresh fruit you need:
1 golf ball size amount of pie crust
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon, if desired
For large fruit, such as peaches or even figs chop them into bite size pieces after washing, then toss with the sugar and lemon juice. Roll pie crust thin and somewhat round--it's okay if we're off shape a bit. Lightly grease a baking sheet before transferring the crust to the center of it. Mound the fruit/sugar mixture right in the center of the crust leaving a inch or so edge. Gently fold the edge of the pie crust over the top leaving a nice center for the juices to bubble and vent from while baking. You can brush a beaten egg over the crust edges and sprinkle with a little more sugar, if desired.
Bake pie at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. The crust should be lightly browning a bit while the fruit will be tender and bubbly. 

    Now it's time to jam! We drizzle home made jam into yogurt, on top of granola,,waffles, toast..add a spoonful to iced tea. It's a treasure here in this kitchen. Traditional jam recipes need several cups of berries and a ton of sugar- not to mention the pectin. Am I the only one who goes to make jam and doesn't have pectin? Well. our seasons of experimenting left us with a flexible jam recipe just right for small batch harvesting..and no pectin required.

Fresh Fruit Jam Flex-recipe

For every 2 cups of fresh fruit:
½ apple, chopped and peeled
1 ½ cups sugar

If you are using berries, mash them in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Other fruits should be peeled and chopped into bite size pieces before placing in the pan. Add the chopped apple and sugar. Cook fruit over medium low heat until the sugar dissolves; stir frequently. Simmer and stir approximately twenty minutes. Test jam by dropping a spoonful onto a chilled plate; if it gels the jam is ready for jars. This jam freezes well and is excellent when processed in a water bath canner for seven minutes.

Want to add a little whimsy? Try adding fresh chopped herbs such as rosemary or mint..a vanilla bean, or even chopped citrus peel. Our last batch had cardamon..and we plan to try anise. Jump outside the box and test some nontraditional flavor.
Note. to help seedy fruits such as berries, run the jam through a mill or fine strainer.

   Whether the harvest is great or small, whether spring berries or fall figs, there is no reason not to enjoy them in our favorite treasured treats. All we need is a little flexibility to work with what we have and enjoy them as they come in. If you would rather wait and use a full recipe, simply freeze your fruits as they are harvested. It's time to grab a basket, pick some berries and make something wonderful!



Dolly Sarrio said...

I am glad you shared this recipe. I have had the problem of having fruit and no pectin so I will have to try this. You pies and Jam look so good!

Simply Scaife Family said...

Thank you, Dolly:)