‘Tis the season for fresh summer fruit
Strawberries have come and gone, but other fruits are here!
I’ve purchased sweet red cherries, peaches and raspberries at a local farm stand. And at the farmers’ market, Rulfs Orchard was selling blueberries and raspberries, as well as two berries I was unfamiliar with: pine berries and saskatoon berries. Also known as juneberries and serviceberries, saskatoons are a bit larger than blueberries and a little smaller than grapes. Their flavor is distinct but slightly reminiscent of sweet apples.
Last Thursday was National Blueberry Day. Cultivated high bush blueberries are available now. In a few weeks, we’ll be competing with bears for wild blueberries.
Later, home berry patches will offer currants and raspberries. Sweet melons, tart cherries and plums will come later in the summer. September brings blackberries, chokeberries and elderberries. Pears and apples will be abundant as summer winds into fall. Concord grapes will end the season.
Fruit contains lots of hydrating water, satiating fiber, and takes time to digest, so eating fruit can help you lose weight. Calorie for calorie, fruits are very satiating. Most are low in calories and all are fat free.
Although they contain some sugar, their natural, unrefined sweetness is much better for you than candy. Replace junk food with fruit and you will lose weight.
Fresh summer fruits are chuck full of vitamins and other important nutrients. They provide dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid) important to health. They also have a plethora of important antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Fresh fruit is a burst of flavor all on its own. Mark Twain described juicy watermelon as the food of angels. It is hard to improve on the taste of just-picked berries or a fresh, ripe peach that drips down your chin. And fruit is convenient — often touted as “nature’s fast food.”
If you want to do something with your fruit besides eating it as is, you have many options. Toss berries or melon cubes into green salads. Mix them into grain and pasta salads. Prepare fruit salads.
For an easy party, lay out several kinds of fruit and berries, quality ice creams in various flavors, whipped cream and nuts.
Desserts can include easy parfaits, trifles, fools and melbas. An American fruit parfait consists of fruit layered with ice cream or yogurt and is often topped with nuts and whipped cream. This is different from a French parfait, which is a frozen custard dessert made with egg yolks, sugar, whipped cream and a flavoring, such as pureed fruit. Both types of parfait are usually served in tall, narrow, footed “parfait glasses.”
A trifle consists of sponge cake that is doused with sherry and topped with mashed or whole fruit, custard, and whipped cream or chocolate sprinkles. A fool is made with stewed or pured fruit that is mixed with whipped cream or custard and served chilled. Both are popular in Britain.
Baked treats like pies, cobblers, buckles and crisps. Stir fruit into dough for muffins and quick breads. There are so many possibilities! Here are a couple recipes to get started.
Mixed Fruit Parfait
2 1/2 cups of fruit (use 2 or 3 kinds of fruit / berries, like melon cubes, peaches or plums, berries)
1 1/2 cup frozen yogurt or vanilla ice cream
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup whipped cream
Prepare fruit (cut in cubes or wedges, remove pits or seeds). In each of three parfait glasses or wine glasses place 1/3 cup fruit. Top with 1/4 cup frozen yogurt and about 1/3 cup of the second fruit. Then top with another 1/4 cup yogurt, then 1/3 cup of fruit or berries. Finish with another layer of yogurt, chopped walnuts, whipped cream. Makes 3 servings.
Note: You may have to adjust the layers depending on the size of your glasses.
Mixed Fruit Crisp
5 cups fruit — I used 3 cups peaches and 2 cups berries; the only fruit I’ve never used in a crisp are melons
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
For the topping:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup rolled oats (I prefer old-fashioned but the quick oats are OK too).
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter 9 x 9 inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, toss the sliced peaches with the lemon juice. Add berries. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, if desired. Toss to coat, and place in prepared baking dish.
For the topping, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (You can also melt the butter and stir it in). Stir in rolled oats.
Spread topping over fruit in baking dish. Bake at 400 40 to 50 minutes, until top is brown and fruit is tender.
Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Words Are My World.