Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The Time Has Come...
I have covered the raspberry patch, along with my pretty scraggly tomatoes, green beans and yellow summer squash, through two nights of possible light frost in late September. The effort was worth it, as unprotected ferns next to the house are blackened while I have continued harvesting a few garden vegetables and lots of raspberries. But now, the forecast is for a few consecutive nights of temperatures perhaps even below 30 degrees, with even the possibility of a few little snow flakes in the air on the next couple of mornings. The vegetable plants seem to have gotten the message, as they have already begun shutting down, with only a handful of beans left, no more baby squashes or even blossoms forming, and the tomatoes only halfheartedly hanging on to the neglected vines trailing across the ground.
But the raspberries! They continue to form, with a stray bee or two always out in the patch, finding one more blossom to sip from, and baby berries hide under leaves and among the brambles. As these pictures show, there are big as your thumb berries without a hint of red--way too early to pick and thus probable victims of the coming cold.
So I went into the patch and gathered the last picking of the season, this time pulling off berries I would have left on for a few more days at any other time. But they are ripe enough to carry that rich raspberry flavor, without the mellowing sweetness that full maturity would have brought. Mixed with the completely ripe berries and some sweet apples, they will still provide much wonderful flavor in crisps and breads and pies through the winter. This last time through the batch yielded another two pounds or so, and the freezer is now full and ready for plenty of raspberry treats.
Even as I rue the passing of the berry season, I am reminded of how blessed I am to have these berries right in the back yard, and I know that without that personal patch, I could never pretend to be making "frugal" desserts with so many raspberries. For those who do not have such a wonderful supply, I have a few recipes that stretch out the rich raspberry flavor when you are able to fit a pint or so into the budget. You could also try substituting strawberries (often more available at more reasonable prices) or even blueberries for raspberries in some of these recipes as another cost-cutting measure.
A few of the postings I have included here in the past:
In a salad:
And, of course, jam:
A future post will include some yeast breads with raspberries. Notice that I now have added a widget so you can follow Frugal, Fast, and Fun and be notified via email when a new post is added. Try it out! (This will also keep me on my toes, making sure I have some new thoughts to share regularly.)