Have you ever heard of jack fruit? I hadn’t either, until I heard a segment about it on a radio cooking show the other day. The recipes sounded fun but I thought to myself, why would I bend over backwards to seek out some obscure tropical fruit in the depths of a New England winter? Other tropical fruits, such as bananas and pineapples, are a lot easier to find around here, but still, even though I like them, I rarely buy them. Why would I when we have such delicious local fruit from right here? Fruit that I can enjoy without contributing to the use fossil fuels to transport them from far away places.
Last summer, I picked 6 pints of red raspberries and 10 pints of blueberries at local pick-your-own farms, some of which I enjoyed fresh and some of which I froze and am enjoying throughout this winter. I also picked 3 pints of wild blackberries and 7 pints of wild black raspberries. In addition, I picked enough berries to make three batches of jam. All the while, I enjoyed pleasant times in the outdoors, picking berries, watching butterflies, listening to birds sing, enjoying the New England summer.
You don’t have to live in rural New England to enjoy picking your own fruit. When I lived in the city, several times a year I made the 45-minute drive to a farm where I could pick strawberries, black raspberries, grapes, and apples, depending on the season.
And you don’t have to buy exotic tropical fruits to have fun experimenting with recipes. Here are some fun ways to use berries, fresh or frozen:
- on your morning cereal
- in pies and crisps
- as a filling for crepes
- mixed in with yogurt (add a small amount of sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, or granola for crunch)
- to make yogurt-berry smoothies
- as a filling for a layer cake
- to make a berry shortcake
- to make a sauce to use as a topping for ice cream
- on a cheesecake
- in muffins
- in cornbread (blueberries are really good this way)
…and many more ways that I have yet to try!