Black Raspberry Freezer Jam

And finally the berries come to an end...late Sunday afternoon, I put several bags of blueberries, raspberries, and black raspberries into the freezer for later berry exploits. But before I did that, I tried my hand at freezer jam. After letting the jam sit for the requite 24 hours needed for set, I had some tonight for dinner (on a PB&J sandwich) and found the jam to be quite thick and very mild in flavor - delicious!

This recipe comes from inside the Sure-Jell pectin package and uses less sugar than traditional jam recipes - if you make it, be sure to get the "pink box" of Sure-Jell (for less and no sugar needed recipes), not the regular "yellow box." The recipe calls for red raspberries, but based on my trial with black raspberries, it works just as well for those!

Black Raspberry Freezer Jam (~ 6-8 cups)
4 cups crushed black raspberries (about 3 pints before mashing)
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 box Sure-Jell for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes Fruit Pectin
1 cup water
clean plastic or freezer-safe glass containers with tight-fitting lids

1. Crush raspberries using a potato masher, about 1 cup at a time, until amount of crushed berries measures 4 cups. Do not puree berries - there should still be some chunks of fruit.

2. Combine sugar and pectin in a large saucepan and stir until thoroughly combined.

3. Add water to sugar and pectin and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute and remove immediately from heat.

4. Quickly stir crushed berries into hot sugar and pectin mixture until thoroughly mixed.

5. Pour jam into prepared containers, leaving about 1/2 inch space at top for expansion during freezing. Cover containers.

6. Let containers stand at room temperature for 24 hours, until jam is set. Refrigerate for up to three weeks or freeze for up to one year (thaw in refrigerator).

Raspberry-White Chocolate Scones

Berry bonanza continues with this post - in which I attempt to recreate a raspberry-white chocolate scone from Longbottom Coffee and Tea in Hillsboro, OR. I can't be certain that I've replicated that particular scone, but these did come out quite good! If you happen to be in the Portland area and have a chance to swing by Longbottom, be sure to try their scones - the marionberry are also delicious.

Raspberry - White Chocolate Scones (~12 large or ~24 small scones)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
1 egg
1 T. vanilla extract
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 cup white chocolate chips
raw or granulated sugar (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375F and line 2 cookie sheets with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and baking powder. In a separate mixing bowl, combine milk, yogurt, egg, and vanilla extract.

3. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and stir until just combined and moist.

4. Stir in raspberries and white chocolate chips.

5. Drop batter by scoops onto prepared cookie sheets. For large scones, use about 1/3 cup better per scone. For small scones, use about 3 T. batter per scone. If desired, sprinkle with raw or granulated sugar.

6. Bake 25-30 minutes at 375F, until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Remove cookie sheets from oven and cool for about 5 minutes, then remove scones to wire rack to finish cooling.

Blueberry Muffins

Still working through the berries from Friday's picking expedition - this time, making fresh blueberry muffins for Sunday morning breakfast. These came out moist and slightly dense, chock full of juicy berries, and perfect either on their own or with just a small bit of butter. They are delicious served warm right out of the oven and hold up well for serving the following day, too.

Blueberry Muffins (~18 muffins)
3 cups flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
10 T. butter, softened (1 1/4 sticks)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 375F and grease (or line with baking cups) approximately 18 muffin cups.

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a separate large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each until mixture if fluffy.

4. Add half of dry ingredients to butter and sugar mixture, then add a third of the yogurt, stirring after each addition only until just mixed. Continue by adding half of remaining dry ingredients, a third of the yogurt, the remaining dry ingredients, and the remaining yogurt.

5. Fold in blueberries and stir until just mixed.

6. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups, filling about 2/3 to 3/4 full. If any muffin cups are not filled with batter, fill about halfway with water (this will even out baking).

7. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Remove muffin tins from oven and cool for about 10 minutes, then remove muffins to eat or to a wire rack to finish cooling.


Spinach Hommous

Last week I traveled out to Oregon to visit my friend Melissa. The trip provided plenty of inspiration on the food front: reminding me how much I like fresh berries (see recent posts about some of the treats I've been whipping up after going berry picking upon my return) and finding some delicious spinach hommous at the grocery store that prompted me to whip up a batch of my own. Enjoy this spread with pita or spread it on a hearty whole wheat bread and top it with cheese and sliced veggies (cucumbers and tomatoes, for starters) for a yummy sandwich. Just don't take it to the beach, where you might find that the wind tries to add its own touch - a bit of gritty sand!

Spinach Hommous (~ 1 1/2 - 2 cups)
1 can (16 oz.) chickpeas, drained
1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. tahini
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T. lemon juice
2 T. olive oil

Combine all ingredients and process in a food processor until smooth (in batches, if necessary). If the hommous is too thick, add some vegetable juice, about 1 T. at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.

Raspberry-Peach Smoothie

The berry parade continues with this quick and easy berry and yogurt smoothie. If you don't happen to have raspberries or peaches on hand, you can use blueberries, blackberries, mango, or whatever other fruits you do have. You can also spruce it up with a variety of mix-ins, depending on how sweet you'd like it (e.g., honey), if you want a boost of protein and vitamins (e.g., wheat germ), or some extra spicy kick (e.g., ginger).

Raspberry - Peach Smoothie (~ 4 servings)
1 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt
1 cup fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup fresh raspberries
ice (if desired)
mix-ins (if desired)

Combine yogurt, peaches, and raspberries (and any ice and desired mix-ins) in a blender and blend until smooth (about 30 seconds). Pour into a glass and enjoy! Left-over smoothie can be stored in the refrigerator (covered) for a day or so.


Fresh Berries - Raspberry Lemonade and Berry Topping

Since 4th of July falls on a Saturday this year, Friday was a holiday for most folks around here. And for once, the weather in the DC area was gorgeous - temperatures hovered in the 70s or just at 80 for most of the day, the humidity was low, and the sun was shining. Which means it was perfect weather for going berry picking. This time around, I decided to try a new farm, Larriland Farm in Woodbine, MD. Larriland uses integrated pest management, so their fruits generally have much less pesticide burden than other farms. In addition, Larriland has a large selection of fruits and veggies for people to pick. I didn't get around to everything that was in season yesterday, but I did get about 15 pounds of berries - blueberries and three varieties of raspberries (black, purple, and red).

I'll be posting a number of berry recipes resulting from this haul in the coming day. [UPDATE: Recipes are now posted for raspberry-peach smoothie, blueberry muffins, raspberry-white chocolate scones, and black raspberry freezer jam.]

For starters, here are two fairly easy recipes that I'll be bringing to this evening's Fourth of July celebration.

Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade
I can't claim all the credit, since I found this recipe in the July issue of Martha Stewart Living. However, I have switched the proportions around a bit. Also, Martha suggests spiking with vodka, if that's your style.

Raspberry Simple Syrup
4 cups water
2 cups fresh raspberries (I used a mixture of black, purple, and red raspberries)
1 3/4 cups sugar

Sparkling Lemonade
2 quarts lemonade (homemade or storebought)
1 liter sparkling water
Raspberries and mint for garnish

1. Bring water, raspberries, and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and gently mashing berries as you stir.

2. Strain mixture into a storage container and cool syrup. [Save the mashed berries to eat with yogurt or ice cream.]

3. In a large pitcher or punch bowl, combine raspberry syrup, lemonade, and sparking water. Serve over ice, garnish with fresh raspberries and mint.

Berry Topping (for angel food cake, pound cake, or ice cream)
4 cups berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice

Lightly toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve berry topping over cake or ice cream and top with whipped cream.