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Issue 33 - Berry nice

Scotland Magazine Issue 33
June 2007

 

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Berry nice

Sue Lawrence provides some recipes using that quintessential summer fruit, the raspberry

Most people, on tasting their first raspberry of the season think of hot sun and summertime.

My thoughts, however, are not of melba sauce or luscious raspberry jam, but of luggies and dreels and sore tummies. For, as a child, I was one of that happy band of berrypickers who were paid a paltry sum of money to pick berries all day long in sun, wind and rain, for the whole month of July.

In Tayside and Perthshire, summer holidays and berries were inextricably linked. Hordes of schoolchildren would walk, cycle or catch a bus to ‘go to the berries.’ It was a way of life and the irritating scratches on our legs and berry-stained shirts and shorts were part and parcel.

Having left the comfort of my Auntie Bette’s home in Invergowrie just outside Dundee, I would walk to the fruit farm with my cousins early in the morning. The first thing to do was to collect our buckets (called luggies) and tie them round our waists with string. Then we would be dispatched to the fields of raspberries, which were the best berries to pick as your back didn’t ache as it did with strawberries. You were also sheltered from the worst of the weather by the high leafy canes. And because of the length of the rows (called dreels) you could also have a good old chat all day long with your fellow pickers.

The trouble with raspberries was that they tasted so good, most of the ones I picked never made it into my luggie. My smile must have been rather unsightly, with little seeds sticking between my teeth. Raspberry pips are of great historic significance as they were found in glacial deposits in the Scottish Lowlands – proof that the wild berry has been in Scotland for quite some time.

Scotland has retained its claim as the world’s best raspberry grower because of its cool moist climate. Chilean imports of the berry might be handy in the middle of winter but in summertime in the northern hemisphere, there is absolutely nothing to beat a Scottish rasp!

These days, raspberry canes are spine-free, so itinerant pickers need not worry about scratches and cuts as we did. Besides, half of the industrial fruit-picking is now done by machine.

Nowadays there would be more berries ripe for picking, as the tayberry (a cross between a raspberry and blackberry) was developed in Invergowrie (just along the road from my Auntie Bette) at the Scottish Crop Research Institute, the world’s largest producer of raspberries and blackcurrants.

The tayberry’s sister, the tummelberry (developed from another seedling from the same crop) is less aromatic than the tayberry and more hardy. American berries that look and taste similar are loganberry (a natural cross between raspberry and Pacific blackberry) and boysenberry, another cultivar of the Pacific blackberry.

At the end of a long berry-picking day, there was a stream of weary children struggling with their luggies to the weighing area. Some managed to pick many pounds of berries in a day; I admired their stoicism, since they were obviously not devouring as many as I did. Others contrived to cheat by concealing stones in the bottom of their luggies; I rather envied their audacity. Others – myself included – just smiled that giveaway seedy smile and resolved that next day more berries would go into the luggie, not into the mouth.

QUICK RASPBERRY ICE CREAM
This is the quickest of all ice creams to make and so delicious. Serve with thin rounds of shortbread
250g / 9 oz raspberries, frozen
200 ml / 7 fl oz crème fraiche
150 ml / 5 fl oz natural yoghurt
2 tbsp golden caster sugar

1. Place everything in a food processor and whizz until smooth then taste and add more sugar is necessary. Serve at once

RASPBERRY, PINE-NUT AND CINNAMON MUFFINS
225g / 8 oz self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
1 level tsp cinnamon
100g / 3 1/2oz golden caster sugar
1 large free-range egg
75 ml / 2 1/2 fl oz sunflower oil
150 ml / 5 fl oz soured cream
150g / 5 1/2oz raspberries
55g / 2 oz pine nuts

1. Sieve the first three ingredients into a bowl, stir in the sugar
2. Whisk together the egg, oil and soured cream then gently fold this into the dry ingredients
3. Very gently fold in the berries and pinenuts then spoon into 12 muffin cases set in muffin tin and bake at 200ºC / 400ºF /Gas 6 for 20-25 minutes until golden

GOOEY CHOCOLATE AND RASPBERRY BROWNIES
Although raspberries are one of the best berries to freeze, it is imperative you use fresh berries for this recipe otherwise the mixture will be too moist and, though still delicious, they will be impossible to lift out of the pan, once baked

350g / 12 oz dark chocolate ( 55-60 per cent cocoa solids)
250g / 9 oz unsalted butter
3 large free-range eggs
250g / 9 oz muscovado sugar
100g / 3 1/2 oz plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
175g / 6 oz fresh raspberries

1. Melt the chocolate and butter together then cool slightly
2. Whisk the eggs until thick then add the sugar gradually and beat until glossy
3. Beat in the melted chocolate then gently fold in the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt
4. Pour half the mixture into a buttered 23cm/9” square cake tin. Scatter over the raspberries then cover with the remaining mixture
5. Bake at 170ºC / 325ºF / Gas 3 for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out with just a little mixture adhering. Remove to wire rack, leave for about 20 minutes then cut into squares
6. Remove from the tin when cold. (It is seriously tempting to remove when still warm but they are too fragile to decant unless cold)