Ways to Cook with Berries
Originally published May 2011. Updated May 2020.
It’s no secret that berries and summer go hand in hand. I guess you could say they’re a perfect pair and by far my favorite summer treat year after year. When I was growing up, my family had a pool. Yes, I was lucky. I had the house that all my girlfriends wanted to visit on those scorching August afternoons. All summer long my friends and I would swim, tan, and reenact the occasional “Little Mermaid” scene with a dedication and vigor that would make Walt Disney proud. Never did we worry about too much sun, and never did we worry about what we ate, and why should we? We ate assorted berries all day long, month after month.
This berry love story is an especially vivid one for me. We would lay our towels down in a large picnic-like square, set a small pewter sugar bowl between us, gather up some forks and spear berry after berry from the giant bag of frozen fruit. A sprinkle or two (or three) of sugar added the final touch. Eat, chat, giggle and jump back in the pool. The cycle seemed to last forever and it was pure bliss. That was at least 15 years ago and I can still feel stray granules of sugar on my skin like sand from some faraway beach, and that smell of sweet semi-frozen berries.
Books About Berries
For a good part of my first decade, I was obsessed with the state of Maine. Yes, that often-forgotten 23rd state of the Union. Maine was my favorite state. But let’s be clear about something, I’ve never been to Maine. Yet at some point in my childhood, I became quite smitten with it. In retrospect, I think the whole thing can be traced back to two books: “Blueberries for Sal” and “One Morning in Maine,” both by Robert McCloskey. My mother (perhaps the real culprit here) read these to me over and over. “Blueberries for Sal” is mostly about picking blueberries and “One Morning in Maine” is about clam chowder. Yeah, I was into food books even then. For me, this was all the motivation I needed to pack up, say goodbye to everyone and move to Maine. Blueberries and seafood, what a life!
But, fear not. You don’t have to go to all the way to Maine to have your own berry-picking adventure. Oklahoma has tons of fun spots where you can go pick to your heart’s desire. Blue, black, raspberry, strawberry, we’ve got them all. So this summer, why not start a new family tradition? To quote the great Robert McCloskey, “ku-plink, ku-plank, ku-plunk” go the berries in your pail! Happy Picking.
Here are a few local berry-picking options. Call ahead for hours and directions.
Owasso Tree and Berry Farm
11039 N. 129th East Ave. Owasso, Ok
Maple Creek Berry Farm
3423 Pleasant Valley Road Poteau, Ok
Thunderbird Berry Farm
7515 S. Hansen Rd. (321st East Ave.) in Broken Arrow, OK
A Recipe for Your Berries: Blackberry Lemon Curd
- 5 whole eggs plus
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 cup lemon juice
- peel of one lemon
- 8 Tbs unsalted butter
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 6oz container of blackberries finely mashed
Place all ingredients in a bowl over a pot of boiling water. On medium heat, whisk the mixture, until the butter has melted. Turn heat up and stir with a spatula. Do not stop stirring until mixture has thickened. You want your curd to be thick, like a pudding. Once the curd has thickened, pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Eat alone or with absolutely everything. Great with ice cream, pound cake, cheesecake, whipped cream, shortcake and/or your favorite baked good.