Savoring Summer: Discovering Minnesota’s Best Seasonal Berries and How to Use Them | Cooking With Jade

Savoring Summer: Discovering Minnesota’s Best Seasonal Berries and How to Use Them

Savoring Summer: Discovering Minnesota’s Best Seasonal Berries and How to Use Them

The Charm of Minnesota’s Seasonal Berries

Minnesota Berries

There’s something utterly magical about discovering fresh, seasonal berries. Growing up in Columbus, my family often visited farmer’s markets, but it wasn’t until I traveled to Minnesota that I truly fell in love with the world of berries. Minnesota is like a berry treasure chest that’s been waiting to be unlocked. The state’s unique climate and fertile land provide the perfect environment for berries to thrive, resulting in some of the juiciest and most flavorful fruits you’ll ever taste.

Minnesota’s berries are more than just delicious snacks. They’re bite-sized pieces of nature’s artistry, each with its own color, texture, and taste. From spring through summer, local farmers’ markets and berry farms offer a symphony of flavors. These berries are not just sweet treats, they are symbols of the fleeting beauty of summer and the joy of harvesting nature’s bounty.

Delightfully, Minnesota berries also bring a punch of health benefits. Packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, they are as nutritious as they are tasty. I love incorporating them into every meal, making the most of their seasonal availability. Whether you’re a cooking enthusiast or just someone who enjoys fresh produce, Minnesota’s seasonal berries can add a vibrant touch to your dishes and a burst of energy to your day.

A Berry Tasting Tour: My Personal Trips to Minnesota’s Berry Farms

U-Pick Berry Farm

Minnesota has some of the best berry farms I’ve ever visited, and every trip is like embarking on a mini-adventure. My journey usually starts in the early morning, with Zelda, my Boston Terrier mix, eagerly wagging her tail, sensing the excitement in the air. After a light vegan breakfast, often toast with avocado and a sprinkle of sea salt, we hit the road.

One of my favorite spots is Afton Apple Orchard in Hastings, where the blueberries are plump and bursting with flavor. Walking through the rows of blueberry bushes, the air filled with the fresh scent of ripening berries, feels like stepping into a quaint, sun-soaked paradise. Zelda loves it here too, always sniffing around, enjoying the fresh breeze.

Another memorable farm visit was to Sam Kedem Nursery in Hastings, renowned for its raspberries and strawberries. There’s nothing quite like the taste of a freshly picked strawberry, warm from the sun, sweet, and slightly tart. My fingers would stain red from picking them, but it’s totally worth it. And let’s not forget the fun of ‘u-pick’ experiences at Twin Cities Berry Company, where I meet fellow berry enthusiasts and share tips and stories.

Top Three Minnesota Berries and Unique Vegan Recipes to Try

Vegan Berry Recipe

Let’s dive into the stars of any Minnesota summer: strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Here are my favorite recipes that make the most of these fresh finds.

Strawberry Avocado Salad

– 2 cups (300g) fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
– 1 large avocado, diced
– 2 cups (60g) baby spinach
– ¼ cup (30g) red onion, thinly sliced
– ¼ cup (60ml) balsamic vinaigrette

1. In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, avocado, spinach, and red onion.
2. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and toss gently to combine.
3. Serve immediately for a fresh, vibrant salad.

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

– 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
– 1 tbsp (15g) baking powder
– ½ tsp (3g) salt
– 1 cup (240ml) almond milk
– ½ cup (120ml) maple syrup
– 1/3 cup (80ml) coconut oil, melted
– 1 tbsp (15ml) lemon zest
– 1 cup (150g) fresh blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In another bowl, mix the almond milk, maple syrup, melted coconut oil, and lemon zest. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
4. Gently fold in the blueberries.
5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
6. Let cool and enjoy the zesty, berry goodness.

Raspberry Chia Seed Jam

– 2 cups (300g) fresh raspberries
– 2 tbsp (30ml) maple syrup
– 2 tbsp (28g) chia seeds
– ½ tsp (3ml) vanilla extract

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine raspberries and maple syrup. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the raspberries break down and become syrupy, about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in the chia seeds and vanilla extract. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the jam thickens, about 10 minutes.
3. Remove from heat, let cool, and transfer to a jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Creating Berry Magic: Tips for Storing and Preserving Summer Berries

As much as I love chomping down on these berries fresh off the bush, incorporating them into my meals, or blending them into smoothies, sometimes there’s just too much to eat at once! Here are a few tips for making those summer flavors last long into the colder months.

Quick Freezing: Spread the berries in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid before transferring them to a freezer bag. This prevents them from clumping together and makes it easy to grab just the amount you need.

Make Your Own Jams: Like the raspberry chia seed jam recipe above, making your jams is a fantastic way to preserve berries. They make perfect spreads, fillings, or even toppings for your favorite plant-based yogurt or oatmeal.

Dehydrating Berries: If you have a dehydrator or an oven with a low setting, you can dry the berries and use them as snacks or toppings. Dried berries last much longer and are just as nutritious.

Refrigeration: Always refrigerate berries in a single layer on a paper towel-lined plate or inside a ventilated container. This helps to keep them dry and fresh longer.

Adventures in berry picking and experimenting with recipes have deepened my appreciation for these jewels of summer. Whether you’re making a simple salad, baking muffins, or lovingly crafting a jar of jam, Minnesota’s seasonal berries can inspire endless culinary creativity. Enjoy savoring the magic of summer, one berry at a time.

Until next time, happy berry picking and cooking!

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