Berry, berry tasty (and there are so many kinds)
Oregon is a wonderful place for growing berries: Your dilemma is deciding which one
My husband Mark is out each morning in the cool air, plucking sweet red raspberries and loganberries to top his morning cereal. He doesn't have to go far to get the berries - he has planted them all around our yard so we are encircled in a fruity, fragrant halo.
'You ought to encourage people to plant berries,' he said. 'It's not a good time to be planting them now, but they can at least be tasting the different varieties and decide which they wanted to plant in the fall for next season.'
Mark is a big advocate of planting many varieties, so you can enjoy different tastes all season.
Along the east side of our house, between the kiwi and grapes, he has what he believes are loganberries, and a long line of currants, red raspberries and blackberries. They line the lawn all the way to the blueberries at the back of the property. On the west fence line, just two steps past the strawberries, edible flowers and herbs, are more red raspberries, leading back to the rhubarb and into the vegetable garden.
When we pick more than we can eat in a day, we either make jam or pop them on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer. The next day we bag and label the frozen berries for use during the winter. Mark has made it effortless for berries to be a staple in our diet 365 days a year.
Oregon berry farmers grow a wide variety of species that are ready now for our eating enjoyment. Here are some to look for at your farmers' markets and farm stands:
Black raspberries: Called the King of Berries in terms of health benefits, these are noted for their exceedingly high antioxidant level. They have a strong, dark purple color and great flavor. Often referred to as 'blackcaps,' they have the same hollow core as raspberries.
Red raspberries: Wild red raspberries, native to North America, are known for their radiant red color and powerfully good flavor. Meeker and Willamette are among the top commercially grown varieties in Oregon.
Blackberries: Wild blackberries have been important to the heritage of cultivated blackberries in the Northwest. Although blackberries were picked wild and processed for canning, few growers were interested in growing them commercially because of the thorns. In 1926, Philip Steffes of Sublimity, Ore., found a thornless plant growing east of Stayton, which was identical to the thorny Evergreen blackberry. When it was tested and found to be as productive as the thorny form, it quickly gained popularity and soon became the main blackberry sold in the United States and grown extensively in Oregon. Other commercially grown varieties to look for are Cherokee and Navajo.
The blackberry you probably have in your backyard or that you stop to pick from along the roadside, is the Himalaya blackberry, introduced by Luther Bur-bank at the turn of the century. Though the fruit is wonderful for pies and jam, it is considered by some to be a weed. I wear longsleeves when I pick from our bramble and trust the cobbler and jam are worth the thorn scratches. Because of the thorns, Himalaya blackberries are not commercially grown.
Boysenberries: In the late 1920s, George Darrow of the U.S. Department of Agriculture began tracking down reports of a large, reddish-purple berry that had been grown by a man named Rudolf Boysen. He enlisted the aid of Southern California farmer Walter Knott, who was known as something of a berry expert. The pair learned that Boysen had abandoned his growing experiments several years earlier and sold his farm. Darrow and Knott headed out to Boysen's old farm, where they found several frail vines surviving in a field choked with weeds. They transplanted the vines to Knott's farm where he nurtured them back to fruit- bearing health. Knott began selling the berries on his farm in 1935, and soon noticed that people kept returning to buy the large, tasty berries. When asked what they were called, Knott said, 'Boysenberries.'
Boysenberries are supposedly a cross between a blackberry and a Loganberry or red raspberry.
Loganberries: These are a cross between a blackberry and red raspberry and have a unique tart flavor. They are great used in pies.
Marionberries: Known as the 'Cabernet of Blackberries,' for its complex, rich earthy flavor, this native Oregon berry is a cross between a Chehalem blackberry and Olallieberry blackberry. It was bred at Oregon State University and is raised primarily in Oregon. Naturally, it is named for Marion County.
Chesterberries: Developed by the USDA in Illinois and Maryland, these grow on thornless vines. They have good flavor but are very different and less aromatic than other trailing blackberries like marionberries.
Kotata: Grandparents of the Kotata berries are Boysenberries and two wild Northwest blackberries along with an Eastern blackberry.
Silvan: This berry was developed at OSU by G. F. Waldo, who sent the seed to Australia where the original selection and development took place. It is generally similar to a Marionberry.
Waldo: Another thornless variety, one of its grandparents is the Marionberry. The name leads me to think G.F. Waldo had something to do with its development.
We'll learn about blueberries in another column - this gives you enough to taste in the mean time.
Berries are wonderful eaten all by themselves, tossed into a salad, frozen into ice cream or sorbet, baked into crisps, muffins or pies or made into sauces. Fill your freezer with a variety of them now for use this winter - your family will thank you.
Take Mark's advice and keep notes on which berries you like best. Plant canes in the fall to bear fruit next summer. For more information on growing berries, visit http://extension.oregon
The recipes I chose today are easy and delicious. The Five:30 Marionberry Crisp does take a few minutes more than 30 to complete, but it's a snap to prepare and you will find yourself making it over and over again. The Raspberry Chipotle Sauce is wonderful with grilled chicken or pork. Drizzle it over salad, too.
Bon Appetit! Eat berries everyday!
Raspberry Chipotle Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
2 cups fresh raspberries or frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup Ruby Port
1 drained canned whole chipotle chile in adobo (add more if you want more zip!)
In a small saucepan, heat ingredients to a simmer, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Puree the sauce (in a blender or food processor) before straining through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Serve hot or cold.
Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by emailing brandall@lakeoswe
Just a smidge over 30 minutes is needed to prepare this 5 ingredient dessert, but I doubt you will mind the wait!
Serves 6 to 8
Feel free to use any berry available!
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup flour, divided
½ cup butter or margarine
6 cups Marionberries (or other berries), fresh, frozen or canned
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine oats, brown sugar and ½ cup flour. Cut in butter with pastry blender or forks until well blended. Place well drained berries in bottom of 8x8 inch baking dish and toss with remaining ¼ cup flour. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over fruit and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.