By Brenna Gordon O’Dea
And finally…it happens. August arrives. We are not quite there yet, but the final month of freedom is just around the corner, and we are filled with…ALL THE FEELS. Of course, we are beyond excited for back to school season to begin. We miss YOU, our stellar students, teachers, and parents during these summer months. But ya know…it’s summer! Who doesn’t love a little more time spent out in the sun…far, far away from anything with the words home + work, combined into one?? With the end of sweet summertime drawing near, there is something else pretty sweet that is still in full swing. What is this marvelous magic we speak of…? BERRY SEASON. Blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, oh my! Your fridge is filling up fast and you are entering struggle city. What to do with all this deliciousness?? You don’t want them to go to waste, but the whole family is getting real sick of eating handfuls…armfuls, of berries for breakfast lunch and dinner. For these final few weeks of summer, when berry fever begins to take its toll, check out these rockin’ recipes to reduce that waste and whip up something special using up every last strawberry in sight.
Making your own jam. Sounds daunting, we know. I thought so too, before I actually DID IT. Not only did I make some damn good raspberry jam on my own, I taught other people how to do it too! And let me tell you…INSANELY EASY. Like, insane. This is if you ditch the whole pectin part, which I think you totally can, and should. Unless you are making jars and jars and jars to last you all year long, keeping it simple is the way to go. Besides, what is pectin anyway? Just your average old heteropolysaccharide…yeah…we’ll save that chat for another time. For now, try out this Triple Berry Quick Jam that you can make using just about any berry under the summer sun. You will have something sweet ready to spread on your bread by breakfast tomorrow, or even dinner tonight. And talk about kid friendly food! Making your own jam is just about the best way to get your little ones involved in the action, and really feel like they accomplished something HUGE. They might just be smiling from sunburned ear to sunburned ear when they unzip their lunchbox and find that sunbutter and jelly sandwich you packed them for camp lunch…made with their very own homemade jam!! They might also be more open to trying out new flavors if they make it themselves. Raspberry seeds freak them out? In jam form, they might just dig it! Blueberries too mushy for them to handle? Sautée them with a spoonful of sugar and spread it on some toast…it could become their new favorite fruit! And make sure to check out these awesome tips on how to make your jam the best it can be with just a few easy additions.
I don’t know about you, but baking in the hot summer heat…not my favorite past time. I mean, come on, I’m already sweaty and sticky from just surviving this 90 degree day, why would I want to wait around in front of a 400 degree oven for my cookies to bake!? Enough with those cookies and cakes, summer is the time for quick fixes and sandy beaches. And nothing makes for a quicker sweet tooth treat than something that requires NO BAKING at all. These No Bake Cherry Chia Crumble Bars should definitely show up on your next nighttime cookout menu. I know, I know, cherries? I thought we were all about berries today. That’s the great thing about this recipe! Just about any fruit will do. Strawberries gettin’ stale? Perfect. Throw ’em in this mix. Blackberries lookin’ a little blah? Steer clear of the trash and toss them this way. Basically, any berry ya got, chances are they will work in bar form just fine. All you really need is some sort of crunchy, crumbly topping, and plenty of tiny helpers to do the mixing and mashing, and dessert is served! Oh, and did I mention those Cherry (or berry) Chia Crumble Bars are totally vegan AND gluten free? Well, yeah, they are. So while you are saving your environment by saying buh-bye to food waste, you are also saving some animals in the process. Guilt free goodness at its best, all summer long.
Okay, you have made enough berrylicious bars and jams to feed a family…of ten. Now what? Well my friends, when all else fails, or when you are just ready to take a break from all that berry bliss, it is off to the freezer they go! Hold up, am I seriously telling you to take all of those leftover luscious berries, fresh from the farm, juicier than fresh pressed juice itself, and just…freeze them?? Why yes, yes I am. Because what’s better than getting a little taste of that freshness long after summer has ended!? Just imagine…you find yourself craving something sweet on a cold winter’s night. You are all tuckered out from the Christmas cookie craze, and if you have even one more sip of peppermint hot chocolate you might just, well, it won’t be pretty. In fact, you are in the mood for something on the chillier side. You open your freezer and all that stares back at you is that lonely last bit of boring vanilla ice cream that has been in there for who knows how long. That just won’t do. But wait! You remember your stroke of genius back in July, when you bagged up some blueberries from the market to save for a rainy (or snowy) day. Within minutes you have transformed that sad scoop into something Michelin Star worthy…or at least worthy of a second spoonful. Just pop those fresh picked berries into the microwave, pour on that ooey gooey goodness, and you’ve got an ice cream sundae that tastes like summer. And nothing tastes better than that.
So there ya have it. You never have to let another berry go bad, and you can always count on having something tasty to munch on during these final summer months.
(Image by flickr member Kirsty Darbyshire licensed under Creative Commons)