Summer Berries

3 Jul 2018 | 0 comments

Summer brings an abundance of home grown berries. Picking these bedazzling jewels is one of the pleasures of the summer months. Strawberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, loganberries; the choice is yours, but my favourite has always been the raspberry.

Raspberries (Rubus idaeus) have been eaten throughout Europe since prehistoric times. The generic name ‘Rubus’ means ‘a thorny shrub’ and ‘idaeus’ after Mount Ida in Asia minor where the shrub grew abundantly. According to legend, raspberries were originally white. The nymph, Ida, pricked her finger while picking berries for the crying infant, Jupiter, and raspberries have since been tinged red with her blood. 

Raspberries are nutritional powerhouses. They are a good source of folic acid which is essential for brain and nerve function and are packed full of fibre which helps to support digestive harmony.

They are also high in the powerful anti-oxidants beta carotene and Vitamin C. Anti-oxidants block oxidative damage to cells, and so have the potential to protect against abnormal cell replication, considered a primary step in the development of cancer. 

Raspberries are rich in anthocyanins, the compounds that provide colour to fruits and have many potential health benefits. They have been linked to controlling diabetes, improving vision and circulation, and slowing the effects of ageing, particularly loss of memory and motor skills.

Ellagic acid is found in many fruits but is exceptionally high in raspberries. Ellagic acid is a powerful anti-oxidant and potent anti-inflammatory, and together with Vitamin C can help to protect skin from the summer sun.

It’s hard to perfect on a bowl of fresh raspberries but there is often a seasonal glut, so I like to make a ‘shrub’ by preserving them in vinegar and honey. Shrubs can be mixed with sparkling water or alcohol to make refreshing drinks or cocktails. This one will be on offer at the Trill Farm Summer Party.

RASPBERRY & BASIL SHRUB

250g raspberries
250ml apple cider vinegar
Handful torn basil leaves
200ml runny honey 

Put the raspberries in a large bowl. Add the basil, pour over the vinegar and muddle all together well. Cover with muslin and leave in a cool place for 2 – 3 days.

Tip the mixture into a sieve and press the pulp through.

Add the honey (more or less to taste is fine). Pour through a funnel into a clean glass bottle. Store in the fridge.

To serve – mix the shrub with sparkling water or soda to taste.

RASPBERRY & WHISKY CREAM

Serves 6

1¼ lb (600g) crowdie (crowdie is a creamy soft Scottish cheese. If you are unable to source this use a 50/50 mixture of yoghurt and mascarpone).
½ oz (15ml) whisky
2½ oz (60g) icing sugar
7 oz (200g) raspberries
2 tablespoons toasted oats
6 raspberries (to serve)

Place the crowdie, icing sugar and whisky in a bowl and blend together.  Spoon this mixture into serving glasses alternating with raspberries, finish with a layer of crowdie. Chill overnight.

Remove from the fridge, sprinkle over the oats and place a raspberry on top. Serve.

RASPBERRY PARFAIT

Serves 6

2 lb (900g) raspberries 
4 egg whites
8 oz (225g) icing sugar 
¾ pint (450ml) whipping cream

Puree the raspberries in a blender and set aside.

Combine the egg whites and sugar in an electric mixer bowl and beat until firm and shiny (about ten minutes).  Transfer this mixture to another bowl and whip the cream in the mixing bowl until it forms soft peaks.

Stir the raspberry puree into the cream and gently fold in the egg whites. Pour into a suitable container and freeze.  When the mixture is very lightly set but not hard, remove and beat well then return to the freezer.

RASPBERRY TART

Serves 6

9 oz (250g) plain flour
3 oz (75g) sugar
5 oz (150g) butter
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
1½ lb (700g) freshly picked raspberries
6 tablespoons raspberry jam

6 – 4” diameter x 1” depth individual flan dishes

Oven 190 C

To make the pastry, sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter. Add the sugar. Add the egg and 1 tablespoon of water and the other as necessary to make a smooth ball. Leave to rest for at least an hour before using. Roll out the pastry and line the baking tins. Prick the bottoms with a fork. Line with greaseproof paper, fill with baking beans then bake blind in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and the greaseproof paper and bake for a further five minutes. 

Remove from the oven, cool slightly and carefully turn out the cases. When they are completely cold fill with the raspberries.  Melt the jam and sieve to remove the pips. Coat the raspberries with the jam. 

Daphne Lambert is an award winning chef, author and founding member and CEO of food education charity, the Greencuisine Trust. She is an expert in the field of health and nutrition and runs our seasonal Living Nutrition retreats, unfolding the relationship between land, food, health and vitality. 

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