When you have a polytunnel or fruit cage, summer berries can be one of the highlights of the warmest months. At this time of year, you may have plenty of home grown summer berries to eat. But what should you do with all that abundance?
Polytunnel gardeners should always avoid waste whenever they can. That means always making sure that you have a range of recipes ready to use up all the produce we grow. It is very important to make sure you are ready for the abundance your garden can provide. This means being ready with a range of great recipe ideas.
To help you make the most of all the produce you grow in your polytunnel, we thought we’d share this list of interesting recipe ideas to help you make the most of your summer harvests:
Strawberry Recipe Ideas
Strawberries are so much better when you eat them fresh from your garden. But beyond eating them straight from the plant, what should you do to make the most of your strawberry harvest?
The first thing to remember is that strawberries don’t just have to be eaten on their own, or with cream. They can also be included in a huge range of fruit salads – and other salads for that matter. You might think of strawberries as dessert. But they can also complement a range of savoury flavours.
Strawberries work well in a range of leafy summer salads – simply chopped up and tossed in, or when made into a strawberry vinaigrette or another strawberry based dressing. Strawberries also work well alongside various cheeses, nuts or seeds.
Of course, there are also all the classics to consider. From pies, to tarts, to cakes, to pavolgas, to cheesecakes. There are plenty of ways to include strawberries in a range of cooked recipes.
Then, of course, there are the classic preserves. A strawberry jam is bound to be a firm and enduring favourite. But you can also preserve them without using sugar, by canning or bottling them in a range of ways.
Raspberry Recipe Ideas
Raspberries are another firm favourite amongst the summer berries. Personally, they are my favourite. I grow plenty in and around my polytunnel, and enjoy them in a wide range of ways.
First of all, of course, raspberries can also be enjoyed straight from the garden. They can be eaten on their own, or with some natural yogurt perhaps. Of course, they also work well in a fruit salad with other fruits.
Like strawberries, however, raspberries are not just for afters. They can also lend themselves well to a range of savoury recipes. One of my favourites is haloumi cheese with raspberries and a honey glaze. Raspberries or raspberry sauces also work well with other cheeses. A raspberry sauce cannot just be poured over ice cream etc… it can also be used to glaze a nut roast, or vegetable bake.
And yes, you can consider the classics too. Why not make a raspberry ripple ice cream, for example. Or a raspberry cake. Or a raspberry mousse?
Preserving raspberries is easy too. You could freeze some of course, and turn some into jam. But you could also consider other interesting options, such as making a raspberry fruit leather, for example.
Redcurrant Recipe Ideas
Redcurrants are another summer fruit that can be used in a wider range of ways than many people imagine. I use redcurrants from my garden to make a simple fruit syrup, which can be used to make a cordial or squash. I also use redcurrants to make glazes for vegetable loaves and include some of the berries in the dough when baking breads.
Redcurrants also work well in a range of other baked goods – from cakes to pastries. Why not make a redcurrant cake and serve it with a sauce made from summer berries? Or make a vegan redcurrant tart to enjoy with some vegan ‘nice’ cream?
Redcurrant jams and jellies are enduringly popular. I sometimes ring the changes by mixing redcurrants with other fruits to make preserves.
I also think redcurrants work well when dried and used in breakfast cereals etc.. and I also enjoy using some to make spicy condiments to enjoy with cheeses and in other ways.
Blackcurrant Recipe Ideas
Blackcurrants are also extremely versatile – another of the great summer berries. Blackcurrants can be used, of course, in many of the same ways as redcurrants. I often use them together in a range of sweet and savoury recipes.
Blackcurrant cordials, blackcurrant compotes, and summer puddings are all, of course, popular favourites when it comes to using up your blackcurrant crop. But again, these traditional favourites are not your only options.
Did you know, for example, that blackcurrants can pair well with beetroots? You can use them together in a piquant sauce that you can enjoy with game meats if you eat them, or with nut/ vegetable based recipes.
Another interesting idea that we have not yet explored is the idea of using summer berries to make drinks. There are a range of delightful cocktails that you can make with a splash of blackcurrant syrup and herbs alongside your favourite alcoholic beverages.
Blueberry Recipe Ideas
Blueberries are another great crop for summer berries that you might be able to grow in your polytunnel. If you don’t have acidic soil where you live, remember these are best grown in containers with ericaceous compost.
If you do grow blueberries, you should never be short of ways to use them. Like other summer berries, blueberries and bilberries can be used in wide range of ways. Of course, as with other summer berries, you can simply eat them fresh, straight from the garden.
You can also bake with blueberries in a huge variety of ways. Blueberry muffins, and blueberry pancakes are definitely two of my favourites. I also make a delicious blueberry compote to enjoy with oats and yogurt for breakfast, and a frozen blueberry yogurt makes a great summer dessert.
From traditional trifles, to summer puddings, granola bars and sponge cakes, there are a huge range of baked goods that work very well with fresh blueberries in them.
Blueberries, like other summer berries, also work very well in summer smoothies. Smoothies are always a great way to make sure you get your five a day. Remember, smoothies don’t have to just contain fruits. I also sometimes blend blueberries alongside carrots, beetroot, and even greens from my garden. Fruit and vegetable smoothies can taste much better than you might imagine.
Do you grow summer berries in your polytunnel or elsewhere in your garden? How do you use up your harvests? Do you include fruits in savoury recipes as well as in sweet treats and desserts? If you have any more interesting recipe ideas for summer berries to share, please do so in the comments below. We’d love to learn how you make use of the fruity abundance of your garden over the summer months.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.