The Berry Patch of Forest Lake, Minn., has been providing fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries at reasonable prices for the families of suburban Minnesota for the past 40 years.
Walking down the rows of raspberries, negotiating with each bush to gather its fruit, was a challenge that included several scratches and one bee sting. It was well worth it, however, to know that the collected produce couldn’t have been fresher.
Raspberry season will soon be wrapping up, but there are still plenty of blueberries to be had at the Patch. Hurry over to Forest Lake to experience firsthand the excitement and sense of pride of picking your own food.
Laura Taylor, a sophomore at Northwestern College who has been collecting berries at the Patch since childhood, has no complaints about her summer job. Her favorite part is unsurprisingly the all-you-can-eat free berries, but she says the customers are great too.
“No one is cranky coming to pick berries,” she said.
It would be hard to be in a bad mood with the sun shining on your back, the breeze blowing and your containers slowly filling up with the shockingly red berries that you worked to gather.
Below are two recipes that will really showcase your hard-earned fruity gems.
Raspberry Cornbread Muffins
I’m not usually a fan of prepackaged mixes, but the Jiffy corn muffin mix is a classic. Its only ingredients are things that would go into these muffins anyway, and at less than 70 cents, it’s a bargain.
Cinnamon and vanilla, plus a touch of sweetness from the honey, perfectly complement the tart raspberries, and an extra egg keeps these little dudes moist.
A cousin to the scone, these are perfect for summer breakfasts or a light snack.
1 package Jiffy corn muffin mix
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Next, in a large mixing bowl, blend the cinnamon and sugar into the Jiffy mix.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, honey and vanilla until a frothy white foam begins to form on top.
Join the wet and dry ingredients in a happy union.
Little bumps in the blend are okay — a too-smooth mixture would mean your muffins would be full of “tunnels,” or air pockets.
Add the raspberries, only stirring a couple times to avoid breaking up the berries.
Fill a dozen lined muffin cups 3/4 full with the batter.
Bake for 13-15 minutes.
Raspberry-Peach Freezer Jam
Before heading to the Berry Patch, the idea of making canned jam seemed unrealistic in a college kitchen.
Canning involves boiling glass and cooking fruit down to mush for hours, right? Wrong. The regulars at the Patch said making canned jam’s simple cousin, freezer jam, is a quick and easy project that can make the most inept cook seem like an experienced jamstress.
Forget about shopping for birthday and holiday presents. Toss a ribbon around a jar of this ruby-colored goo and call it a day. Your friends will be amazed.
1 package pectin
3 cups sugar
4 cups raspberries
1/2 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
To begin, peel and pit your peaches. Choose ripe ones so they break up easily in the jam. Finely chop.
In a large bowl, begin to mash the raspberries and peaches with a fork or potato masher one cup at a time. Wear an apron — this gets pretty splattery.
Add the lemon juice.
In a sauce pan, mix the pectin, sugar and water. Bring this mixture to a boil. It is extra important to continuously stir during this step. Let boil for one minute, then remove from heat.
Add the hot pectin mixture to the juicy fruit sauce. Mix well, and immediately pour into freezer-safe mason jars (ones with straight sides) or any airtight container.
Leave a quarter inch of room at the top — the jam will expand once frozen.
Let it sit at room temperature for one day, then stick it in the freezer.
When ready to eat, thaw in the fridge and relish in the summer flavors all winter long.
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