The author’s daughter, Beatrix, helps gather the wild raspberries, or wine berries.
The wild raspberries have been picked (or eaten by the birds), and the plants are back to their hideous, weedy-looking selves. But now for the best part: cooking up a kitchen’s worth of raspberry goodies to savor today or later in the dead of winter when the taste of summer is just that much better.
This season’s “crop” was not as prolific as in recent years, due to a very cold spring and the proliferation of non-native invasive vines like mile-a-minute (Persicaria perfoliata) getting in its personal space. That said, my daughter and I collected enough fruit to make the most delicious jam and gelato, and still had plenty left over to sprinkle on granola for breakfast. There’s been a lot of talk recently about the nutritional value of wild or foraged foods. Wild raspberries are said to be a good source of vitamin K, magnesium, fiber and vitamin C, so gobbling up a raw, freshly picked handful is as nutritious as it is tasty.
When making jam, I try to use as little sugar as possible, and often mix in other seasonal fruit, though the raspberries alone have a unique delicacy some people prefer to leave alone. For the gelato, blending the little berries (they are smaller than cultivated raspberries) with larger, meatier fruit gives the recipe some needed heft. This year, the local peaches have been so spectacular, that I decided to add them to the gelato.
Wild Raspberry and Local Plum Jam
Do not rinse wild raspberries; they are delicate and will fall apart or get soggy. Just spread them on a flour sack cloth and pick the few bits of leaves or stems out with your fingers. For the plums, I chose to keep the skins on because I love the taste and texture of them in the jam. For pectin, I’m most fond of Pomona’s Universal Pectin. For proper canning techniques, there are many good guides on the Internet. I use mason or Ball jars with a water-bath canning method, so I can pop open a jar of summery jam to spread on hot buttered toast on a cold February morning… yum!
4 cups total of whole wild raspberries and plums chopped into ½ inch-sized pieces (the ratio of berries to plums does not matter, it’s to taste)
1 cup of raw organic turbinado sugar
2 tsp of powdered pectin
Place jelly jars and lids in large pot of water and set to low boil. Put berries and plums into a saucepan on medium heat. Add sugar and stir occasionally while the mixture heats up. When lightly bubbling, lower heat to simmer and add pectin, sprinkling over the cooking fruit and stirring continuously. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 more minutes. Jam is now ready to be canned in sterile jars (while still hot), or cooled and put into containers in the fridge. Without canning, jam will keep for two weeks in fridge.
Wild Raspberry and Local Peach Gelato
Traditional Italian gelato (ice cream) is smooth and creamy, but since I love the texture of whole fruit, I prefer to puree the fruit only to a point, leaving some little bits whole. I always use local eggs; the eggs give gelato its unique flavor and richness.
4 cups of organic whole milk
2 cups total of chopped medium local peaches (leave skin on or off, your choice) and wild raspberries, mixed together
1 tbsp of lemon juice
3/4 cups of raw sugar, divided in half
4 egg yolks
In a saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until lightly bubbling. Set aside and cover to keep hot. In a blender or food processor, puree the fruit with the lemon juice and half of the sugar until it’s as smooth as you want it (some like a few chunks left). Set aside. Whisk the remaining sugar together with the egg yolks until very thick. Gradually add the hot milk, then return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for about 20 minutes, then stir in fruit mixture. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours until chilled. Transfer to an ice cream maker and use according to manufacturer’s instructions.