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Without a doubt, one of the best things about summer is fresh fruit. Berries are an especially wonderful delicacy to be (briefly!) enjoyed over the summer months—they won't be as cheap, fresh, or local at any other time of the year. If you're wondering which berries are in season when, here's a run down of peak seasons for the Northern Hemisphere:
- Blackberries and Raspberries: June-September
- Blueberries: July
- Strawberries: May/June
Picking your own berries can be a fun activity for the whole family, and gives kids a healthy dose of science, physical exercise and sunshine! Contact local farms in your area to see when their crops might be available for picking.
Once you get home from the farm you'll need some great berry recipes to reward your family for a hard day's picking. Need some fresh ideas? Here are three great recipes from Kathryn Hawkins' new book Fruit!
Rhubarb and Raspberry Crumble
This comforting pudding is best served hot with Custard sauce. You can replace the raspberries with small whole strawberries if preferred.
Serves 4 to 6
1 lb (500g) rhubarb
2/3 cup (150g) fresh raspberries
Generous ½ cup (125g) extra-fine sugar
1 ½ cup (180g) self-rising flour
1 stick (250g) butter
½ cup (60g) ground almonds
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C. Trim the rhubarb and cut into 2-in (50cm) lengths. Place half the rhubarb in the bottom of a 5-cup (1.2-L) oval baking dish.
Top with the raspberries and scant ¼ cup (30g) sugar, then the remaining rhubarb and another scant 1 cup (30g) sugar. Set aside.
Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter until well combined and the mixture starts to cling together in lumps. Stir in the remaining sugar and the ground almonds.
Set the rhubarb dish on a baking sheet, and carefully sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the fruit. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes covering the top with foil if it browns too quickly. Pierce the rhubarb in the center of the dish to make sure it is tender. Best served hot, with Custard sauce (see below.)
Makes approx. 2 ½ cups (600ml)
4 level Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp extra-fine sugar
2 ½ cups (600ml) whole milk
2 egg yolks
Few drops vanilla extract
Few drops yellow food coloring (optional)
In a saucepan, blend the cornstarch with a little of the milk to make a smooth paste. Stir in the sugar and remaining milk. Heat, stirring, over the heat until boiling and thick—you may find it easier to use a whisk to help keep the mixture smooth. Cook for 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the egg yolks and return to the heat. Cook through for 3 minutes, stirring, but without boiling. Add vanilla extract to taste, and color with food coloring if liked. To use cold, pour into a heatproof bowl and cover the surface with wax paper to prevent a skin forming. Allow to cool before covering and chilling until required.
For a thicker custard, use 1 Tbsp more cornstarch.
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