For years the only berry South Africans could really enjoy has been the
beloved strawberry. Luckily, this is slowly changing as blackberries,
blueberries, young berries, elderberries, gooseberries and raspberries
become more available
Scroll down for 5 cool berry recipes!
Either fresh from local farm stalls and delis,
or imported frozen or tinned from Europe - most of us aren't used to these tiny fruits from heaven, and this is reflected in our berry cooking repertoire. But this can be
remedied by understanding the differences and characteristics of
Lets start with the king of berries. In medieval times no banquet was
complete without a small dish of strawberries rolled in honey for each
guest, where they were eaten a berry at a time throughout the meal to
aid digestion. Strawberries make delicious ice cream, sorbets and jam,
combine well with poached rhubarb or can be served, at room
temperature, with cream, yoghurt, icing sugar, syrup or red wine.
They're also excellent in a smoothie as a pick-me-up: blend six to 10
ripe strawberries in a glass of milk with a tablespoon of honey, a
tablespoon of wheat germ, one banana and an egg yolk. Liquidise for one
minute and serve immediately. Fondly called 'tiger's milk' it does the
energy trick instantly.
Another great idea is to put berries under the grill to give a slightly
bitter, burnt tinge, dust with icing sugar and enjoy with Greek
yoghurt. When buying, look for bright, firm, ripe fruit with a fresh
green calyx. If you have to wash the strawberries, do so before
removing the calyx or the water will penetrate the berry.
Blackberries are juicy, fleshy fruit, rich in vitamin E. They should be
firm and glossy black all over, without any signs of mould. The berries
need to be used soon after purchase and make excellent jam, jellies,
tarts and crumbles. Mix them with apples or pears for a pie, or turn
them into sorbets and ice cream. Crushed into vodka they make a
delicious liqueur, a little of which can be added to sparkling wine, or
steep them in a pint of wine vinegar for use in salad dressings.
These have a grape-like texture and a sweet, slightly spicy flavour to
them. The blue, frosted, bloom-like wax protects the fruit and extends
shelf life in your fridge for up to a week. Check the berries before
you buy: they should be firm and round, not wrinkled or cracked and
there shouldn't be any juice at the bottom of the punnet. Blueberries
freeze well and can be served with creme fraiche, or lightly sweetened,
vanilla-flavoured whipped cream. They're a good accompaniment to goats'
cheese, sweetened with maple syrup, or folded into a pancake mix where
the milk has been substituted with buttermilk.
The little drops of delight are soft, crimson red, white or yellow
berries with velvety, hairy droplets. Buy ones that are undamaged or
overripe for immediate use. Different varieties make them available for
an extended season and they freeze superbly on open trays and, once
frozen, can be bagged or packed into sealed containers. Raspberries are
at their best on their own, sprinkled with a little Port and icing
sugar and topped with cream. They mix well with other fruits,
especially melon. If you're using them for parfaits, add a little
gelatine to ensure a smooth set as raspberries contain lots of water.
They make superb jam and are ideal used in sweet, nutty pastry cases,
served with meringues, as a sauce, a cake topping and for summer
pudding. The acidity in a raspberry sauce makes a good partner to duck
and lamb and raspberry vinegar can be made for use in salad dressings.
Mulberries aren't cultivated. These wonderful, purple-black berries make a wonderful sauce, ice cream or simple berries-and-cream dessert.
Youngberries are a hybrid of dewberries and loganberries but
more conical in shape, like large, plump blackberries and should be
glossy when ripe.
Boysenberries were developed from strawberries, raspberries and loganberries.
Cape Gooseberries are tart and slightly scented and available
from early winter. The golden berries are covered in a papery husk,
which can be turned back and the berry dipped in castor sugar or coated
in toffee. They make excellent jam or puree for cheesecake toppings, as
well as for mixing with other fruits. Dehusked and refrigerated,
they'll keep a few days.
5 Things to do with berries:
1. Avocado and strawberry salad
2. Raspberry smoothie
3. Blueberry cupcakes
4. Strawberry pavlova
5. Blueberry cheesecake