After Black Raspberry Picking

(With apologies to Robert Frost.)

It’s been a few weeks now since we drove out to an orchard to pick black raspberries on a Saturday morning and I’ve kept meaning to blog about it but now it’s a hot Tuesday afternoon and I’m exhausted and I can’t for the life of me remember what I had ever intended to write about black raspberry picking.

Was it the way in which my middle child kept yelping and running to be exclaiming, “Mom! Blood!” only to laugh maniacally over the drips of juice dripping from her fingers. “It looks SO realistic!” she shouted at her older sister.

Was it how the littlest one at only three, picked more than his share from the low bushes in the pale morning sun before beginning to wail as the sun became stronger?

Was it how I doubled down on our initial four pints and bought a half flat only to then spend the last twenty minutes wondering if perhaps I had been overly ambitious and squandered my children’s good will and enthusiasm?

Was it about the chunks of sweet sour plums in the muffins we’d packed into a carrier?

Was it how my older daughter seemed so relieved to finally, FINALLY be out doing something, anything after this past year of hunkering and how she likely ate more than she stored, like the grasshopper of the parable? One can hardly blame her. I do not think the grasshopper had spent the past year plus cooped up in a pandemic.

Our final haul probably amounted to close to ten pints. (Five quarts?) What did we do with such a bounty? So much.

Black raspberry galette

I made galette, pictured above in all its rough, rustic glory. The recipe I was following had suggesting trimming and even considering a design before filling and shaping. But I have hot hands and crusts become tough in them. Besides, trimming would be throwing out bits and pieces and why would I throw away perfectly good dough? So my end products are much less photographable than they are edible. But oh boy are they edible.

Black raspberry muffins, some with white chocolate chips (browned up here).

I made muffins: half with white chocolate chips and half without out of respect for some taste preferences in my household.

Black raspberry turnovers.

I baked some turnovers with black raspberry filling and froze half of them. Turnovers are an excuse for pie for breakfast, basically.

Four half pints of jam, five pints of raw packed in light syrup.

Years ago, when we lived in Minnesota, I learned how to can at one of the many ubiquitous nature centers there and got a specific red raspberry jam making private lesson from my sister’s mother in law, who’s been at it long and seriously to have a “raspberry guy” at her local farmer’s market. Mine will never match hers, but I can certainly give it a try. So with the older two kids’ help, I “put up” the jam and whole berries pictured above. We will tuck these away until the fall and winter when we are craving a little taste of summer.

I find preserving food in this way to be an incredibly satisfying process. I suspect in part this is because I think that so much knowledge that I have is incredibly impractical. (I can say, for example, “thank you” in one or two incredibly obscure languages.) There’s just something about being able to store away food that we picked and, especially, to be able to enjoy it in the midst of winter when the flavors can harken back to warmer days.

Dutch baby with raw berries.

Dutch babies are always a quick, easy, popular breakfast, so I made one this past weekend, picked some red raspberries from our yard and paired them with the last of the black ones.

La piece de resistance: my husband and daughter made this lovely vanilla, black raspberry frozen custard for the Fourth of July. It’s truly incredible.

My husband is the ice cream maker in our family and so he turned some out with my oldest daughter. It was lovely and already has me wondering whether or not some of the raw packed berries we canned might be able to go into some of this mid-winter this year. I reckon we’ve earned it.

Is that it? Is this the black raspberry content I intended to write all along? Feels like I’ve hit all the high parts.

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