Summer’s the perfect time for picking berries, making pies

KEARNEYSVILLE – Picking raspberries and blackberries is always a highlight of summer. What better to add to your morning cereal than fresh berries? What beats the aroma of your kitchen as you take just-picked berries and cook up jelly or jam? What tastes better than a fresh-baked berry pie?

Berry picking involves more than just going out and finding ripe berries. For the best hand-picking experience, wear sturdy shoes and take along a proper container for the berries.

Wear a shirt with long sleeves to avoid the stickers under the branches, for some of the best succulent berries are hidden underneath. To avoid staining your fingers, you can wear thin gloves. Berries are delicate and must be picked gently. If you go later in the day, wear a hat to avoid the sun and apply sunscreen to your face.

Once you’ve picked your berries, you have many options. You can store the fruit loose in the fridge for a week or so. If you have an abundance of the fruit, you can eat some now and freeze some for future use.

Some hints on freezing berries:

1. Lay fresh raspberries or blackberries (or any other berry) on a cookie sheet that has been greased using cooking spray. Make sure they do not touch each other.

2. Place in freezer for as little as 30 minutes until berries are frozen. When frozen using this method, the berries can be stored loose in a freezer bag or other freezer container allowing you complete control to take out and thaw just the amount you want.

It is recommended you use a label and or permanent marker to record the date you completed the process. You can keep berries as long as six months in a freezer.

Another favorite use for fresh berries is in a pie. Let me share my favorite recipe with you:

Raspberry Pie

2 9-inch pastry crusts (top and bottom)

4 heaping cups raspberries

1 cup white sugar

3 Tablespoons tapioca

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons butter

1 Tablespoon half-and half

Sprinkle of sugar (optional)

 

Mix together the raspberries, sugar, tapioca, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt until berries are well covered.

Pour the berry mixture into the pastry shell. Dot with butter and top with second crust. Make slits in the top crust and brush with half and half. If you’d like, sprinkle the top crust with sugar.

Bake in an oven preheated to 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn heat down to 375 degrees and bake for another 25 minutes.

Prevent your outer crust rim from browning too fast by either laying a circle of cut foil over the rim and by taking a large piece of foil, place your pie in center and crimp up over the edges of the crust. (This also saves your oven if berry juice spills out.)

Make your dessert perfect by serving it with the vanilla ice cream you like best.

 I’d love to hear your feedback on this column. If you have any other recipes that use berries or want to offer ideas for future columns, please contact me at pwelsh@shepherd.edu and or send mail to Patt Welsh, 234 Kearneysville Pike, Kearneysville WV 25430.

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