The sunflowers I bought at the farmers’ market last week seemed to announce that it really IS summer, despite the cool weather in the Northwest…(I’m not complaining, after hearing about the heat wave in the rest of the country.)
And the beginning of raspberry season meant it was time for my annual picking date with Jennifer. We talk, catch up on our lives, sort a few things out, and also each pick about eight or nine pounds of raspberries.
That’s a lot of berries and the thing about fresh raspberries is that they are really fragile and don’t last very long. I froze most of mine and I’ll be glad I did this winter.
But I also started thinking about a summertime beverage we always had when I was growing up. The German name for it is himbeersaft, which basically just means raspberry syrup, and it came in bottles. You put some himbeersaft in a glass, added water or seltzer and stirred it up, added ice cubes — and that was it. Very refreshing.
It was easy to make too:
- In a saucepan, combine three cups of berries, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of water.
- Heat on medium-high till it starts to bubble, then lower a bit to keep it at a simmer, and stir frequently for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat, allow to cool and then strain, pressing the berry mixture gently into a sieve over a bowl. Bottle and refrigerate.
It takes awhile for all the liquid to drain through, so be patient. The syrup is not too sweet and is very raspberry-y.
There were still some raspberries I’d picked that were half-mashed, so I decided to break my no-cream rule and make a dessert I’d read about but never made before: raspberry fool (there’s also rhubarb fool, strawberry fool, etc.)
At first I thought this dessert was named so because any fool could make it. Though it really is ridiculously simple, I learned that the name most probably came from the French fouler, to mash, as it’s a combination of mashed fruit, sugar and cream that’s been enjoyed since at least the 17th century. Back then the cream was not usually whipped, Alan Davidson says in The Oxford Companion to Food, because whipping was a long and difficult process before the fork was widely adopted in the late 17th century. Yes, the fork. We have it pretty easy now, what with whisks and electric beaters, so go ahead and whip that cream.
This recipe makes four servings; you can easily double it.
- Mash 1 1/2 cups of raspberries with 1 teaspoon of sugar
- Whip 1/2 pint of cream* with 1/4 cup of sugar.
- Gently fold the berries and cream together, keeping some of each distinct or combining them completely, as you wish.
- Spoon the mixture into glasses or cups and top with fresh berries. Refrigerate for 1/2 an hour or more if you like. This will keep for a couple days with plastic wrap on top of the glasses — it may be a little runny but will still be good.
*A tip from my vegan friend, Katia: You can make this recipe using an excellent coconut-milk version of whipped cream. Here’s the recipe she likes to use. Great idea — thanks!