A friend and I went on a fun berry picking adventure a few months ago when summer was still full of promise.
The trek out to the farm took us through bucolic country roads in Ladner, over an old green wooden bridge and onto a charming island with green farmlands and I hear, a bird sanctuary.
We got to work in the field picking strawberries and raspberries, and a few tayberries and black currants for good measure. The strawberries were the sweet tasting kind that bruise easily and stain your fingers. It was too early in the season for other berries, but the few raspberries we picked too were delightfully sweet.
Later on that afternoon we had our first picnic of the season out on the beach; I spent the whole time thinking about the berries and the pies, icebox cakes, salads, crisps, strawberry sauce and all the other ways we’d celebrate this season of berries.
And now at the end of August, I’m almost not ready for summer to be over yet, then there’s that part of me eager for the next thing. Fall has always felt transient to me. I suppose all seasons are; but fall with its changing foliage and moody weather feels more so than summer or winter; and spring has that fresh essence of rebirth going for it.
So that afternoon months ago when we came back from the beach, we prepared the berries for storing, knowing that our summer which technically hadn’t even started yet, wasn’t going to last forever.
We washed the berries in cold water with a splash of vinegar (we heard it kept it fresher longer), patted them dry with paper towels and put some out for snacking, and for pie and this strawberry sauce later on. The rest we froze, spread out on baking trays, taking turns in our small freezer, then bagged them in small batches for that final stay in the freezer.
This very simple and versatile sauce, is first thing we made with the berries we didn’t freeze, and we’ve ate it all summer long. We doubled the batch and would probably make more with our frozen berries when we run out; ensuring that a little bit of summer stays with us all year round.
Also, it’s an incredibly handy sauce to have around; it’s a great sweetener for our yoghurt, we spread it over toast, scoop it over ice cream and it’s awesome drizzled over cake. There a million other ways you could enjoy it, I’m sure. I fold a few tablespoons into my whipped coconut cream; it’s delicious on waffles, pancakes and makes oatmeal decadent.
Other berries like raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, etc and even seasonal cherries make delicious sauces too. I love a mix of strawberries and raspberries. It’s one of those ridiculously easy-to-make things that totally enliven breakfasts and desserts. Additionally, It can be kept in the freezer for months, so double up the recipe and save time.
- 2 pounds (1kg) fresh strawberries, hulled & quartered
- 3/4 cup turbinado sugar or other raw cane sugar
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 2 teaspoons strawberry liqueur (or other fruit based liqueur like Kirsch or Eau-de-vie), optional
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Combine strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a large nonreactive pot or saucepan over medium heat
- Cover and cook until sugar dissolves, stir frequently and bring to a gently boil, about 10 minutes
- Reduce heat, remove cover and let it simmer until strawberries are completely soft and wilted, about 5 – 7 minutes
- Keep stirring occasionally, smashing the berries and to keep from foaming up (skim foam that develops from the surface)
- Remove from heat and stir in liqueur and vanilla extract
- Let cool before serving or storing; sauce will thicken as it sits