Summer is officially here, and more and more farms open their pick your own berries fields. The berry season usually starts with strawberries, followed by redcurrants, blackcurrants and gooseberries, then blueberries and raspberries, and finally the blackberries. Picking your own is fun and a lot cheaper than buying at the market or supermarket. Yesterday we went to pick redcurrants, blackcurrants, gooseberries and some early raspberries at our local farm and paid just CHF 8 per kilogram. As a comparison, 250g of Swiss raspberries in Coop cost CHF 6 at the moment, which is CHF 24 per kilogram or three times the price of pick your own! Berries are full of vitamins and they’re high in antioxidants and polyphenols which help fight chronic deseases; there are superfoods growing all around us, so there’s no need to ship in all those exotic superfoods from far afield!
Here are some ideas for what to do with all the berries you’re going to pick. And if you need instructions for what you’re expected to do when visiting a berry field, read our post here.
1 Berry compote: Berry compote is quick and easy to make and can be used for so many snacks and desserts. Put a few handfuls of berries (mixed berries or just one type) into a saucepan and add a splash of water. Heat up it and let it cook until the berries are soft. While the compote is still hot, add as much sugar as you need, depending on how sour or sweet you like to eat your berries. Let it cool off or eat it while still warm.
2 Porridge with berry compote: Prepare your porridge with of oats and water or milk. Pour some berry compote over the finished porridge. Ready is a healthy, filling breakfast.
3 Berry muesli: When I was a child and it was berry season, this berry muesli (Beerimüesli) was one of our favourite sweet dinners on a hot summer’s evening. Add a good amount of berries to a bowl (either just one type of berry or a mix) and squash them with a fork. Add plain yoghurt, oats, some millet flakes (Hirseflocken) and sugar to taste. Mix and put it in the fridge for at least two hours so the oats soften. Eat either with some fresh bread or with Zwieback (rusk). And if you like it a little more dessert-like, stir in some whipped cream just before serving.
4 Berry smoothie: There are dozens of variations, it’s best to just try a few combinations and see what you like. Take some berries, add a liquid (yoghurt, milk, fruit juice or water), a sweetener if needed (banana, honey, or else) and if you want a protein source add some nuts, nut butter, cottage cheese or quark. You can also freeze your smoothie in ice lolly moulds for a healthy treat!
5 Layered berry yoghurt: Homemade fruit yoghurts are much, much lower in sugar than shop-bought (think 6-7 sugar cubes in a small tub of bought fruit yoghurt). All you need is a berry compote, some plain yoghurt (or quark if you want to increase your protein intake) and a glass or jar. Put a layer of compote at the bottom of the glass and fill it up with yoghurt.
6 Freeze them: Berries are great for freezing, and you can either freeze them entire or cooked-down as a compote. My mum always had a large chest freezer and filled it with all kinds of frozen berries and stonefruit during summer. This meant we didn’t have to buy exotic fruit in winter (well, that didn’t exist anyway back then) but could rely on our own, locally grown fruits for muesli, desserts and baking. You could even freeze them in small portions so you have the right amount ready for your morning smoothie.
These were the healthy ideas for berries. And now for some a little more indulgent ideas…
7 Ice cream with warm berry compote: Pour the still warm berry compote over a slice of vanilla ice cream or mascarpone ice cream (recipe following this week). Berry compote with vanilla ice cream was one of our standard Sunday dessert when I was a child.
8 Rice pudding with berry compote: There’s nothing more comforting than a warm bowl of sweet Milchreis (rice pudding) topped with berry compote. You might call this a dessert, but we Swiss are perfectly happy to eat this as our dinner.
9 Berry sponge cake: This easy-to-make sponge cake is fluffy and light and perfect for a hot summer’s day. Our recipe here.
10 Götterspeise: Götterspeise (lit. God’s food) is a 1980ies dessert which has accompanied me through my childhood. I don’t think it’s that popular anymore but it’s certainly delicious. And it’s easy to make: place some ladyfingers (Löffelbiskuits) at the bottom of a bowl, then a layer of compote and on top a layer of vanilla custard. Put it in fridge for at least two hours until the ladyfingers are soaked. By the way, this is the Swiss way of making Götterspeise. The German version is an entirely different dish made of jelly.
11 Berry tiramisu: My mother-in-law makes a divine raspberry tiramisu, without eggs, alcohol or coffee. I’ll ask her for the recipe soon…
12 Jams and cordials: Berries make great jellies, jams and cordials. There are lots of recipes online.