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MARGARET PROUSE: There is now more than enough local produce to enjoy at every meal

Raspberries are part of the bumper crop of fresh produce that is now becoming available on P.E.I.
Raspberries are part of the bumper crop of fresh produce that is now becoming available on P.E.I. - 123RF Stock Photo

In June, it seemed to me that summer 2018 might never come. My worries were unfounded, and since the first leaves of rhubarb unfurled, the fresh food available from Island fields and gardens has been increasing by the week.

Now, after the longest run of hot summer weather that I’ve experienced in this province, there is more than enough local produce to enjoy at every meal. I can’t think of anything that’s currently in season that I don’t like, but I’m going to nominate the raspberry for highlight of the week.

Sweet, yet tangy enough to have some personality, these beautiful berries are plump with juice, perishable and deserve to be handled with care. They’re packed in pint-, rather than quart-sized boxes so that they won’t flatten under their own weight.

For short term storage, keep raspberries refrigerated and use within two days. I usually refrigerate them in the fibre pint boxes that they’re packed in when I purchase them. Iadmit that I have never followed the recommendation to spread the berries on a shallow tray or baking sheet, remove soft or bruised berries and cover loosely before refrigerating.

I do follow the recommendation to keep raspberries dry and only wash them just before serving. It doesn’t take long for wet raspberries to break down.

For longer term storage, freeze raspberries. Rinse quickly in cold water, drain well and freeze whole berries in a single layer on a baking sheet or tray until they’re firm. Then gently lift them from the tray and pack in freezer bags.

One of the best ways to serve raspberries is the simplest. Just wash and serve, with or without a light sprinkle of sugar. That’s a benefit on hot days when heating the oven to bake holds no appeal.

For a cool dish on a hot day, use frozen raspberries to make a smoothie or smoothie bowl. This one combines raspberries and peaches.

Raspberry Peach Bowl

Adapted from Lewis, Alison: “200 Best Smoothie Bowl Recipes”. Robert Rose Inc., Toronto, 2016.

60 mL (¼ cup) unsweetened almond milk

10 mL (2 tsp) liquid honey

2 mL (½ tsp) ground flax seeds (flaxseed meal)

175 mL (¾ cup) frozen raspberries

175 mL (¾ cup) frozen sliced peaches

ice cubes (optional)

Suggested Toppings

Raspberries

Sliced or chopped peaches

Chopped almonds

Ground flax seeds (flaxseed meal)

In ablender, combine almond milk, honey, flax seeds, raspberries and peaches. Secure lid and blend (from low to high if using a variable-speed blender) until smooth. If a thicker consistency is desired, add ice, one cube at a time, and blend until smooth.

Pour into a bowl and top with any of the suggested toppings, as desired.

Variation:

Substitute your favourite milk for the almond milk in this recipe.

Makes 1 serving

Other no-oven ways to serve raspberries including sprinkling them on waffles, french toast, pancakes or cereal; rolling them in crepes, adding them to yogurt and granola for breakfasting toss with them lettuce and a balsamic or poppy seed dressing, floating them in a festive fruit punch, spooning them over ice cream or filling a bowl and topping with whipped cream, chocolate sauce or soft custard.

For a special occasion, make trifle using this easy preparation described in a 1986 Department of Agriculture/P.E.I. Raspberry Growers Association brochure called “Raspberry Rhapsody”. You can find plenty of more elaborate recipes for trifle, but these instructions cover the basics. A recipe for custard sauce follows.

Raspberry Layered Trifle

Show off your prettiest glass bowl with layers of pound cake, custard sauce, raspberries and more raspberries, topped with whipped cream. Garnish with ruby red P.E.I. raspberries and toasted almonds.

Soft Custard

Adapted from “Eggsinstead”, Egg Farmers of Canada.

375 mL (1½ cups) milk

2 eggs, or 4 yolks

50 mL (¼ cup) sugar

Dash salt

5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla extract

Place milk in top of a double boiler. Scald (heat to just below boiling point) over direct heat. Set aside.

Beat together eggs, sugar and salt. Stir a little of the hot milk into the eggs, and then slowly stir egg mixture back into remaining milk.

Return to double boiler and cook over simmering water, stirring constantly, until mixture coats a metal spoon; test frequently to avoid overcooking.

Cool. Blend in vanilla.

Makes 4 servings.


Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at islandgusto@gmail.com.

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