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Food for Thought
In a month or so, raspberries will be ripening. If anyone is looking for me, I'll be the woman in the garden, pail in hand, swatting at bees and eating warm, succulent berries. I might even put some in the pail!
Washington State is the leading producer of raspberries in the United States. Oregon is top of the list for producing black raspberries. According to the Washington Red Raspberry Commission, "Washington accounts for nearly 95 percent of the U.S. production of processed red raspberries, at about 70,000,000 pounds per year."
What's even more impressive, I'm pretty sure they aren't even counting all of mine!
They should, though, because by the time the first frost hits I'll have gallons of berries in my freezer, and dozens of jars of jam in the fruit room. There will also be containers of frozen seedless puree that will fill cakes and pastries all year, and bottles of syrup glowing like jewels on a pantry shelf. I'm doing my part, Washington!
I haven't counted, but we probably have about 150 raspberry plants (it feels more like 1,000 when I have to prune them), and each one is capable of producing hundreds of berries. They're a mixed bag of varieties; some were here when we moved in six years ago, and a few were given to us. They seem to explode in July, and I encourage everyone I know to come over and pick them.
Picking raspberries isn't for the faint of heart. They have serious prickles. Raspberries are relatives of the rose, so these are sometimes called thorns, but I think they are even more evil, since they are tiny and can be hard to locate and remove. You can feel them . . . you just can't see them to pull out. I haven't mastered the art of picking ripe berries with garden gloves on, so I am encouraging the few thornless vines we have to reproduce. You know . . . privacy, soft mood lighting, warm summer nights. Hopefully they'll figure it out, because I draw the line at feeding them white wine and playing "Unchained Melody."
Yellow jackets are a constant trial, too. They love overripe berries and are not afraid of defending their territory. I have no pride or self-control when it comes to these nasty creaturesthe neighbors have all seen me do the "bee dance" in the garden. The trick is to keep them picked! The dogs help with this (they both adore berries of all kinds), as do friends and relatives, but sadly many still get wasted.
The hardest part of writing this column was limiting myself to just a few raspberry recipes, but I'm saving my energy for the garden. Here is a very simple recipe for Raspberry Lemonadesweet, tangy, and refreshing. A little club soda or sparkling water makes it even more delightful!
For a fresh, refreshing summer salad, a raspberry vinaigrette really hits the spot. Try a little on a piece of lettuce and adjust to tastemore salt, less sugar, more basil . . . anything goes!
My husband is a little spoiled, and takes my culinary efforts for granted sometimes. That's why it surprised me when he went absolutely wild over the Raspberry Chipotle Chutney I served over pork tenderloin slices. I'm a sissy when it comes to hot, spicy foods, so I was sparing when I served myself. He, however, went back for more and absolutely dumped it on the meat. He was still raving hours later. I'm going to say that the chutney was a huge success. Hope you like it, too.
What better way to wind up a meal than with a decadent piece of pie? This Raspberry Lemon Meringue Pie is a little bit on the tart side, with just enough sweetness in the meringue to balance it out. I used a very deep pie dish, but I think there would be enough filling to make two modest pies if you prefer. For pretty slices, make sure it cools completely. It is even easier to serve if you have time to refrigerate it.
Haunt the farmers markets until the berries arrive, and then buy as many as you can afford. If you don't have time to use them all, just put them in a freezer container and save them for later. Drop the frozen berries into smoothies, muffin batter, breads, and cakes. And seriously . . . if you're in Eastern Washington this summer, alert me with an e-mail and I'll send you home with a gallon or two!
Contact Lorinda at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lorinda resides in Eastern Washington, where she joyously combines her love of cooking and gardening. Baking is her passion, and licking the batter off the spoon after making a cake is her reward. When she's not in the kitchen, she's out in the garden pulling weeds and snacking on young peas. Also enjoy Lorinda's blog, The Rowdy Baker.
Food for Thought copyright 2013.