The normal late summer sequence of Pick Your Own in Connecticut is blueberries, peaches, raspberries. It was a terrible season for pick your own peaches; a string of 50 degree days in February tricked the trees into thinking Spring had arrived and then two extremely cold spells damaged the buds, but this year’s raspberry crop is amazing!
Nearby Bishops’s Orchards grows a variety called Heritage. Their orchard handout sheet explains that pruning the canes to ground level in late winter yields new growth that produces a crop in late summer and early fall. The season typically begins in mid-to-late August, peaking in September, and winding to a complete close after a killing frost. Several friends have reported that the picking is already great, and I have evidence, too — the 4 qt basket of freshly picked berries two friends gave to my husband on Friday!
Raspberries are a fragile fruit, and you really need to use them within a day to keep them from losing their shape and spoiling. I didn’t want to waste a berry. So I came up with a plan.
- We gently washed and ate some right away.
- We picked out individual beauties, laid them out on a single layer on a baking sheet, and put them in the freezer. The next morning I poured the frozen berries into a ziplock bag. I followed old advice to freeze the berries without washing and to rinse the frozen berries well before using. The new message seems to wash and dry gently first. You can read more about storing fresh berries here.
- We set some aside in one layer in the fridge for eating on cereal over the next two days.
- I measured out 4 cups to bake into raspberry crisp the next morning.
We had been buying and enjoying long distance berries over the past few weeks as they have been a BOGO item in all the supermarkets. But it was amazing to taste the difference a local berry makes.
Crisp is one of the easiest desserts to bake. It stores well in the freezer, too. Here’s a photo of the one I baked while it was still intact.
Here is the recipe I used; it is based on an old Bishop’s Orchard handout.
- 4 cups fresh raspberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/3 cup almond meal [The original recipe called for flour.]
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- Fresh lemon juice
- Place berries in a 9” square pan.
- Sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice.
- Mix together dry ingredients.
- Cut butter into the dry ingredients [This is a snap with a hand held pastry blender if you have one.]
- Sprinkle the topping evenly over the raspberries.
- Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until the berries start to bubble.
This was a birthday dessert, so we topped it with Farmer’s Cow Hay! Hay! Hat! Vanilla Ice Cream.
Raw raspberries (fresh or frozen) are high in Vitamin C and dietary fiber and have many other health benefits. You can use them to top your cereal or spinach salad.
Raspberries are also great in pie. And they make delicious syrup and jam. There are many, many ways to prepare them.
I plan a visit (or two) to Bishop’s soon, a tradition I began when our son was small. It was the perfect outing for those early fall school holidays. Bishop’s has a “sin bin” for contributions to pay for the berries that never made it to the basket for weighing; back then I was a generous donor.
If you want to locate a PYO near your, Local Harvest is a great place to start. Enter a location and click on Pick Your Own to find the farms nearest you. It’s a great and healthy family outing. Enjoy!
I often blog on food, food issues, or topics related to growing things on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”