After a weekend of fermenting and preserving, I found it necessary to blog tonight about this important part of the season, rather than about what will be packaged in your CSA share this week. For a few weeks now, our raspberries at Aspen Moon Farm have been coming in strong. Now, as the cooler temperatures are forecasted, I surrendered to the urgency of the matter and found time this past Sunday afternoon to make raspberry preserves.
There is a laundry list of items that I absolutely love to produce and marvel in their gastronomic delight at the farm. However, aside from the heirloom tomatoes, there is one thing that we produce at Aspen Moon that I utterly crave daily and would wish it to be a part of my last supper, the raspberry. Since my first days working at the farm four years ago, my love for this scrumptious little fruit has benignly developed. There is a small planting of raspberries on the original 2-acre home farm, but as of last year, our berry patch expanded greatly. Into “field five”, at the back of our leased 19-acre property and to the north of our home farm, we have approximately one acre of raspberries planted. Now in their second year of growth, the plants are reveling in unprecedented growth and yielding a wildly tormenting amount of berries (that is to me)! At this time, we are harvesting over 300 pints twice a week of these enticing berries.
In our field “five” we have several types of berries planted, three of them fall bearing and of varying colors – red, purple, and gold. As it has worked out, each of the three types will climax at different points in the fall season, thereby making for an extended crop of raspberries. However, far earlier in the season, we do sell starter raspberry plants in the spring months, and I am often asked at farmer’s market what the key to raising great raspberry plants is. Without doubt, the berries like a sandy, loamy soil, one that is slightly acidic (ie. supplement with pine needles if need be), and enjoy a moderate amount of water. For more information on raspberries for the home gardener, please visit http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07001.pdf.
All of this being said, there is nothing, I repeat, nothing, more wonderful than these succulent little fresh fruits. On Sunday, I used an Alice Waters recipe in her Fruits cookbook to preserve them into jam. As we begin another week, I will at the very least recommend that you try our berries, if you have not. As you will quickly see, they just may be the sweetest and most perfect specimens to ever touch your lips.
Couresty of Alice Waters, chef/owner Chez Panisse Restaurant, Berkeley, CA
4 cups raspberries
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Stir together the berries and sugar in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan. Let sit for 15 minutes so that the berries their juice. Put a small plate in the freezer to use to test the consistency later.
Prepare two one-pint canning jars according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Bring the saucepan of berries to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, making sure that the jam is not sticking (reduce the heat if it is). The mixture will bubble up dramatically, rising high up the sides of the pot. Skim off any light-colored foam as it collects on the edges. Soon the jam will boil down again, forming smaller, thicker bubbles. At this point, start testing the consistency by putting small spoonfuls of the jam on the cold plate. This will cool off the jam sample quickly so that you can tell what the finished texture will be like. When the jam has cooked to the thickness you want, stir in the lemon juice. Turn off the heat and carefully ladle the jam into the prepared canning jars, allowing at least ¼ inch of headroom. Clean the lip of the jars with a clean, damp towel, and seal with lids. The jam will keep for about 1 year.
Also included in this week’s share (varies by pick-up location):
– Salad mix
– Leeks or shallots
– Fingerling potatoes
– Zucchini, eggplant, peppers, or cucumber