Thursday, March 1, 2012

using up the berries

The following article first appeared in the Daily News Record on February 29, 2012.


Each summer we grow, blanche, can, and bag until our two freezers are packed full of green beans, broccoli, spinach, strawberries, rhubarb, and corn, our basement shelves are groaning under the jars of applesauce, peaches, salsa, and grape juice, and we’re keeling over from exhaustion.

And every February and March, as seed catalogues fill our mailbox, I run down to the basement time and again to haul up jars to restock our hutch, and plumb the depths of the freezer in a hurry-scurry effort to use up the old to make room for the new.

Now the empty jars are clotting the shelves. The plastic containers are stacked inside each other, piling ever higher.

There are hardly any frozen vegetables left—when I announce I’ve discovered a bag of green beans rattling around in the depths, the children cheer and then snitch the still-frozen beans out of the pot I’ve just set on the stove. I’m swimming in frozen fruit, though. We have a handsome stash of nectarines, sour cherries, peaches, applesauce, rhubarb, and berries—strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, red raspberries, and cranberries. Of all the fruits, the frozen berries seem especially luxurious. They invoke all my hoarder tendencies, so I have to continually remind myself that the fruit is no good to us if we don’t actually eat it.

So the other evening when a child asked if she could make a cobbler for dessert, I said, “Yes, a double batch.”

Her cobbler was still in the oven when we finished our soup and cornbread. While we waited, we washed the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. But before long, we were pulling our chairs up to the table again.

The kids thrust their bowls up close to the burbling, fragrant pan of berries, and the serving spoon cracked through their crisp, golden brown lid with a hearty crunch and sunk into the scarlet mess of soft, juicy fruit below. We ate our fill of milk-doused, tart sweetness, and when only one serving remained, my husband said, “Good, I get to have some in my lunch tomorrow.”

Recipes like this one can make it really easy to use up all that fruit in the freezer. On the other hand, maybe it’s not so smart to plow through the fruit, because once the berries are all gone we’ll be cobbler-less. That will be a sad predicament, indeed.

Berry Cobbler
Adapted from Recipes for a Postmodern Planet.

This time I used blueberries, red raspberries, and blackberries.

4 cups berries, a mixture, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Tumble the berries into a greased 8 x 8-inch baking dish and sprinkle with the lemon.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour and sugar. Add the beaten egg and stir to combine. Distribute the sandy mixture evenly over the berries. Drizzle the butter over all.

Bake the cobbler at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until the juices are bubbling merrily and the topping is a toasty golden brown. Serve warm with milk or vanilla ice cream.


  1. This looks absolutely delicious! I'm a newlywed and my husband is a health freak... are there any healthier substitutes for all or part of the butter?

    1. Butter is a healthy fat! For more information on the subject, you may enjoy reading Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions.

      Also, I'm of the opinion that desserts are supposed to be rich and decadent ... and eaten in small portions (sometimes). If you want something healthier, berries and yogurt is always a good option.

      Congratulations on your wedding!