While having an abundance of fruit on hand is a happy problem to have, keeping your berries from going bad does present a challenge. Here are four great ways to preserve them.
1. Make jam. To turn your berries into jam, all you need is a pot, your fruits, some sugar and pectin. Make certain you properly seal your jars to ensure the jam’s safe to eat for up to a year. Homemade jams are perfect for spreading on toast or slathering over a bowl of ice cream.
2. Dehydrate them. Turn your oven into a dehydrator. Place berries on a baking sheet on the middle rack, and set your oven to the lowest heat possible. In a few hours, you’ll have dried berries to snack on, mix into trail mix or even bake with.
3. Make freezer jam. Freezer jam is thinner than the cooked variety, but tastes more like fresh berries. First crush the berries and then mix them with sugar and no-cook pectin (available at most grocery stores). Spoon the mixture into small jars and freeze it.
4. Freeze them. Having frozen berries on hand is great for making smoothies, oatmeal and baked goods all year round. You can also try them thawed and topped with heavy cream and maple syrup for a decadent dessert. Before freezing, lay them out in a single layer in a freezer bag, making sure to remove as much air as possible.
These preserving methods will allow you to enjoy fresh berries long after the season has ended.
6 great reasons to visit your local farmers’ market
While some farmers’ markets are open year-round, summer is the perfect time to wander among the stalls and purchase local products. Here are six reasons why you should plan to visit your local farmers’ market this week.
1. To get fresh produce
Farmers’ markets are full of fresh fruits, vegetables and meats, many of which are organic.
2. To get artisanal goods
Additionally, some markets feature entire sections devoted to hand-made products like soap, jewelry, candles and clothing.
3. To find antiques
If you’re into all things vintage, many farmers’ markets have vendors who sell antiques.
4. To find unique goods
Artisanal products aren’t suited to mass production, often because producers don’t want to compromise their quality. Your local farmers’ market is the perfect place to uncover hidden gems you can’t find anywhere else.
5. To taste before you buy
Many merchants at farmers’ markets are happy let you sample their wares. Foodies will appreciate the opportunity to make new gastronomic discoveries, and kids rarely say no to a free sample.
6. To get insider tips
Talking with the growers and artisans who produce your food allows you to gain valuable preparation and preservation tips you won’t get at the grocery store.
This summer, visit your local farmers’ market. Not only will you find great food, you’ll also meet friendly and passionate merchants who are members of your community.
Common grape varietals grown in North America
Cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay are among the most planted grapes in North America and the world. However, there are many other varietals that are cultivated here that make fantastic wines. Here are some common ones that thrive on our diverse soil.
• Pinot Gris. The wines produced by this grape tend to be medium bodied with a hint of sweetness and balanced acidity. Flavors of apple, pear and stone fruit are common. Hints of spice are also typical.
• Sauvignon Blanc. This green-skinned varietal tends to produce wines that are light-bodied, dry, herbaceous and acidic. Aromas of green apple, grass, bell pepper, gooseberry, lime and peach are all common.
• Riesling. Wines made from this varietal have high acidity, are generally light-bodied and can be either dry or off-dry. Rieslings are intensely aromatic, with notes of apricot, citrus, honey, jasmine and petrol being typical.
• Pinot noir. This black-skinned varietal tends to produce wines that are light to medium bodied and have higher acidity and less tannin than other reds. Aromas of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, truffles, leather and vanilla are common.
• Merlot. Supple tannins, moderate acidity and earthy flavors are typical of merlot. These wines tend to be medium bodied and have aromas of black cherry, plum, tobacco leaf, allspice and chocolate.
• Syrah. Also known as shiraz, this varietal produces wines that are full-bodied and packed with juicy fruit and earthy complexity. Aromas of blackberry, blueberry, cassis, olive and licorice are common, as is front-loaded flavor with a peppery finish.
These are just a fraction of the varietals North American wine producers are growing. Learn more by visiting your local winery or wine store.
Cold eats for hot days
On hot summer days, the idea of turning on the stove or oven can be unpleasant. Here are a few meal ideas for times it’s too hot to cook.
There are many variations of this cold Spanish soup, but most include cucumber, tomato, bell pepper and garlic. To make your own, combine your choice of vegetables in the blender and season with some salt, pepper, a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil. Top with toasted croutons for an authentic, traditional touch.
Let everyone in the family make their own fresh spring rolls. Simply assemble the ingredients you want to use including rice paper wrappers, vermicelli rice noodles, julienne style veggies and your choice of protein, then combine them to make your rolls.
If you find rice paper wrappers hard to work with, substitute them with lettuce leaves. Use a premade sweet chili sauce for dipping, or try your hand at a peanut sauce using natural peanut butter, soy sauce and garlic.
Some days it can feel too hot to eat, let alone prepare a meal. Keep yourself and your family nourished with one of the above eats, or simply prepare a platter of fruits, vegetables and cold meats. Bon appétit!
5 common types of dessert wine
Dessert wines are a delicious way to conclude a meal, either on their own or paired with food. Here are five of the most common types.
1. Ice wine
Making ice wine, or eiswein as it’s called in Germany, involves allowing grapes to freeze on the vine. The fruit gets harvested and pressed while still frozen so that the juice released is concentrated and sweet. The best ice wines are crisp, intense and elegant.
2. Noble rot
3. Late harvest
Making this type of wine involves leaving grapes on the vine until they are extremely ripe and sweet. This wine has higher sugar and alcohol levels than other wines and a more complex aroma.
4. Dried grape wine
The traditional way to make this type of wine is to let the harvested grapes dry on straw mats. In some regions, however, they’re dried right on the vine. In either case, the resulting wine is imbued with flavors of cooked fruit, honey and spice. The most well-known type of wine in this category is Amorone della Valpolicella.
5. Fortified wine
This variety of wine has a distilled sprit added to it — usually brandy — either during or after fermentation. These wines can be sweet or dry and contain more alcohol than other dessert wines. Common types include port, sherry, grappa and vermouth.
If you’re pairing your dessert wine with food, aim for balance and flavors that complement rather than overpower each other.
Blueberry crumble cake
With its juicy blueberries and crunchy topping, this cake is perfect for serving to company — or eating for breakfast!
Start to finish: 1 hour 20 minutes (20 minutes active)
• 1/2 cup rolled oats
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup melted butter
• 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup white sugar
• 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
• Pinch of salt
• 1/2 cup melted butter
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2/3 cup milk
• 1-1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
1. Preheat oven to 350 ºF. Line a 9-inch square cake pan with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the dry crumble ingredients and then add the butter. Mix and set aside.
3. In another bowl, combine flour, white sugar, baking powder and salt.
4. In a third bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar. Gradually mix in the vanilla, eggs and milk until smooth.
5. Add a third of the flour mixture at a time, gradually combining the ingredients until you have a uniform batter. Add the blueberries and stir.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and top with the crumble.
7. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a tooth pick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out dry.
8. Serve as is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Vegetarian options for your next barbecue
Do you think cooking on the barbecue is reserved for meat eaters? Think again! Here are some easy ways of making your next cookout vegetarian-friendly.
Meat eaters and vegetarians alike will appreciate having grilled vegetables to accompany their main dish. Zucchini and eggplant are delicious when cut lengthwise, seasoned and cooked on an oiled grill.
If you prefer to cook an assortment of veggies, cut them into even-sized cubes and season them as desired. Once they’re ready to be cooked, wrap them in a piece of aluminum foil and place them on the barbecue to be steamed.
There are vegetarian substitutes for almost all grilled meat dishes. For example, as an alternative to hamburgers you can buy pre-made veggie burgers or try your hand at making your own. A great replacement for ground beef is a mix of black beans and tempeh (a product made from fermented soybeans).
If you’re serving brochettes, replace the meat with more vegetables or with chunks of marinated tofu.
Remember that many vegetarians prefer that their food not come into contact with meat, so a clean grill is recommended. When cooking meat and non-meat dishes, cook the vegetarian items first or simply dedicate a portion of the grill to plant-based food.