Raspberry Jazzberry

Oooooh! Raspberries are here! Just in time for the Jazz Fest!!!!!
That made absolutely no sense, but it just feels like summer when jazz fests are popping up left, right and centre, and you have a handful of berries to munch on.

Look at these beauties! All plump and juicy... my mouth just waters at the thought of them! These were the first of Quebec's raspberries, so they were still a little tart (yes, I bought these at the market, since the squirrels seem to beat me to my own crop...) But the warm weather expected in the coming week should sweeten the next harvests!

The abundant rains we have been getting in the North East has not been overly helpful to berry farmers, but I must say that this year's crop looks downright gorgeous! The raspberries are large and plump, the strawbs are perfectly shaped, they almost look like imports! Though it is true that the lack of warmth and sun cuts down on the sweetness. I wonder how things are fairing on the West Coast, what with the drought and all.

I had these beauties with a handful of strawberries for breakfast, and it was divine! There were some chunks of mangoes too: granted they were not local, but they were nice too.

(It is mango season in the Northern hemisphere, just so you know. If you swing by a reliable fruit store, or an Asian supermarket, you are bound to find a plethora of mangoes. Or you can go locavore whole hog, and pretend mangoes do not exist. But if you happen to be in India around now, before the monsoon hits, you will find a glut of mangoes, varieties you've never heard of! Also, mangoes become hard to find in Hawaii after June. So if you want to eat local mangoes in Hawaii, go before the end of June.)

I don't think I need to give you ideas on how to consume your raspberries, though right now I am having visions of raspberry pancakes.....

Highbush blueberries from New Jersey are abundant and quite tasty. The highbush are the large, plump blueberries, more sweet than tart: they grow in bushes that can reach 1m50 (5') or more -hence the name- and are relatively easy to grow. Wild blueberries - the small, tart berries that stain hands and mouths- are low lying shrubs that grow in wet, boggy areas, and are oh so fun to hunt for when camping: they come into season quite a bit later.

Raspberries and strawberries are great cooked or raw, but aside from the occasional pancake, I find blueberries are best raw. I have yet to taste a blueberry jam that was worth the hassle. Blueberry pies are okay if made with wild blues, but highbushes tend to made runny, bland fillings. If you happen to be in Europe, you have to try bilberries (myrtilles): they're the European cousin of our blues. They grow on midsized bushes, but the berries are that same size as our wild berries. The flesh is dark and quite tart. These are lovely in jams and pies.

In any case, eat berries til you burst: they're good for you, and they'll be gone before you know it!

Bon app'!


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