I wasn’t always a berry eater. Actually, I’ve never been much of an overall fruit eater. I enjoy an occasional apple, especially in the fall. Oranges belong in the toe of a Christmas stocking and it is during those wintery months when they simply seem sweeter. Summer wouldn’t be summer without a watermelon or a cantelope (please don’t ask me about the honeydew melon – the taste just never has appealed to me) juices running down a chin and giving a refreshing punch on a hot day. There’s also the black plum, whose skin is so tart it’s as though you have bitten into a giant sour sweettart candy, yet it’s inside is so juicy and sweet that the tart is quickly forgotten.
I don’t really like pineapple, although when I had the opportunity to spend 11 days in Hawaii *mumblemumble* years ago, I don’t recall snacking on anything more than the local pineapple, as well as fresh mango and papaya. I do enjoy a kiwi on occasion. Their tart sweetness is rich and good when mixed with the melons of summer.
I’ll state right now that I have never cared for grapes, peaches or nectarines. Raise your eyebrow, scoff and laugh, it doesn’t matter. I have tried. I can’t … I don’t … I just won’t.
Yet I can’t say never.
Because there’s my growing attraction to berries.
It’s been slow to grow over the years. As a kid/teen/young adult, I would watch as my family and friends would relish in the goodness of berries … strawberries, red raspberries, black raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries. You name them, my family ate them … fresh, sliced with sugar, baked in cobblers, pureed into jams and jellys. It was a regular berry fest. One that I simply didn’t care for trying. Well … I tried … I just didn’t like.
Oh … I did eat the occasional strawberries … but they had to be whole and there had to be a good amount of powdered sugar to dip them in.
Over the years my enjoyment of strawberries has gradually increased to more than just an occasional whole berry. Perhaps it was when my mother began making her own strawberry jam and the sweet goodness, spread out on a fresh, warm slice of homemade bread was one of the finest treats I could imagine.
Recently, I’ve discovered that my distaste for blueberries has also seemed to have turned a corner. First it was cooked blueberries in a muffin or coffeecake that made me rethink my previous dislike. Who couldn’t resist a blueberry muffin with all that intoxicating crumbly coating on the top? But then, after a bit, the crumbly coating wasn’t necessary … just a straight muffin with blueberries please. Last year I discovered blueberry tea. I honestly can’t tell you why I tried it, I can only tell you that it is some of the best stuff I’ve had the pleasure of sipping on a cold winter morning as I check my emails and read my friends words before starting my day. When that warm mug of blueberry tea is joined with a toasty slice of blueberry bread … well, raptures have been sung for less. Imagine my delight when I found a place that sells homemade blueberry jelly?? Suddenly my mornings were a matter of blueberry tea and the dilemma of whether to enjoy a slice of blueberry toast or an english muffin with blueberry jelly.
I’m not stupid … I had the blueberry tea, the blueberry toast and made a peanut butter and blueberry jelly sandwich for my lunch.
I have been enjoying learning to try new recipes, cooking with the fresh blueberries. There’s a recipe for a blueberry angel food cake that keeps catching my eye and don’t get me started on this lemon blueberry muffin recipe that looks and sounds scrumptious. I’m excited for the season’s fresh blueberries because I’ve found a wonderful way to freeze them so that I can enjoy them again come winter.
For now though, we’re back to summer and those sunny days and warm breezes. It is once again the season for my local fruit stand and the local strawberries. I may eventually broaden my horizons to once again try the other berries, but right now I don’t need to. Right now the strawberries are fresh, sweet and intoxicating – with or without sugar.
Yesterday I made a pitcher of strawberry iced tea. I ate my muffin with homemade strawberry jam. And I found a recipe for strawberry bread. Yep … I’m a singleminded creature at times and in my mind …
that’s berry good.