Summer berries are perhaps the most delicious of all seasonal produce. Easy to grow, pick and store, they can be used for snacks and treats alone, or as the base for more complex and enticing dishes. While your local supermarkets will stock these around the year, nothing beats using truly seasonal fresh berries. Not only can you often find them growing wild or grow your own for free, but they can also be easily combined together for maximum flavor. So let’s begin by looking at each summer month in turn, alongside a few of the best recipes that make the most of these delectable fruits.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that the (hopefully!) sunny month of May marks the very start of the summer. During this month the first berries will start to appear – and these usually tend to be blackberries and boysenberries in most regions. Some of the best things about these berries are that they grow in vast numbers, are easy to identify, and store especially well in the freezer. So there’s no excuse to spend a warm afternoon stocking up with this vitamin-packed summer berries! Look for those which retain as much of a glossy shine as possible as these will be the ripest.
May berries will continue to grow throughout June – but really this is the month where strawberries take the center stage. Usually at their best for the few weeks between mid-June to mid-July, everyone knows how magical these fruits are when added to any delicious treats. Remember that when you pick them, strawberries will not continue to ripen, so look for the largest and reddest ones you can find. There are few fruits which taste so much better than freshly picked and wild growing strawberries. Compared those found year-round in the store it is simply a different world.
Without question, this is the peak month for making the most of the summer vegetables and fruits! Raspberries will come into their prime around the middle of the month, and once again look out for those which are firm, large and brightly colored. Softer raspberries are still fine to eat, but they will have a tendency to break much more easily – still great for making preserves or as an ingredient in smoothies, cakes, and fruit salads/breakfast bowls. You’ll still be able to find these throughout the rest of summer and maybe even into early autumn, but those picked at peak season are the best you’ll find anywhere.
Blueberries are the longest lasting summer fruit. While they can be found as early as June in some areas, the ones growing in Autumn are going to be the best tasting of all. As with blackberries they will easily freeze and store well for the coming winter months. If planning on storing your harvest, just be sure to do so quickly as they do not last long once removed from the vine. Picking blueberries is all about delicacy as the best ones packed with plenty of juiciness will tend to split readily (and the stains can be troublesome to remove!).
How To Make The Most Of Your Summer Berries
Most people will tend to use their berries either in smoothies/juices or to add a tasty freshness to their morning cereals and/or yogurts. Of course, they also serve perfectly when used in fruit salads, cookies, cakes, and similar summer treats. But what are the best recipes out there to try and make the most of your assorted berries? Here are some easily adapted ideas to get you started.
Summer Berry Pies
Few things in the world are quite as crowd-pleasing as a freshly baked summer berry pie. Make no mistake, there is an art of getting this just right and it can take a few efforts to balance a crisp yet crumbly base with freshly seasoned berries. Try this blueberry pie recipe from Foodal that provides an easy to follow, stage by stage guide which is especially handy when it comes to making the pastry. Once you have mastered the pastry, you can then try it out with different berries and even combine with other summer fruits such as banana, pineapple, and watermelon.
Smoothie Cereal Bars
Anyone who routinely picks up a pack of cereal bars during their weekly grocery shop will know that they can be expensive, especially when catering for larger families. Unfortunately, even some of the biggest names actually tend to highly process these bars and pack them full of unhealthy sugars and fats. So why not try and make your own? Just blend berries with whole grain granola, a little honey or maple syrup for sweetness, and a couple of spoons of a healthy yogurt to bind it all together. Form them into bars and bake for just a few minutes at high temperature.
These are especially easy and a superb way of cooling down should you reside in one of the warmer states. All you need is some popsicle tubes and a blender. Combine your berry selection with some low sugar juice and water, then blend them to your own taste (add some yogurt if you prefer a creamier flavor). They can be as ‘chunky’ or as smooth as you wish. Leave them in the freezer for a few hours to set, and enjoy this healthy and hydrating snack at any time of day.
When most people think of salsa the first thing to pop to mind is – quite understandably – tomato, onion and maybe some chilies and cucumber. Berry Salsa is a perfect alternative that works superbly not just with classic tortilla chips, but also with freshly grilled meat and fish. Either mix with a spoon for a chunkier effect or blend your berries up with some yogurt or hummus. Strange as it might sound, strawberry and raspberry salsa is one of those dishes that you will surprise you! Perfect with celery sticks for a truly nutritious accompaniment to a summertime sun-downer.
We’ve listed just a few recipe options here that help to highlight the way that summer berries can add a whole different scope to your seasonal menu. One of the best things about the summer berry crop is that it can be used in such a versatile way. It is perfectly possible to enrich each meal with berries at some stage, and these antioxidant-rich and vitamin-packed fruits are ever so simple to pick and store. Anyone who has the freezer capacity should make the most of summertime and stock up on enough of these to help brighten up the coming autumn and winter months.