Summer is that magical time of year that heralds the arrival of colorful, plump and delicious berries. There is no way in the world that I could just pick one single berry as my favorite. I love them all, each with their own unique flavor profile that dances delightfully on my tastebuds. Right now your local area Farmer’s Markets are offering up these sweet little treasures. Summer is the best time of year to enjoy their nommy goodness, so make it a plan this weekend to visit a Farmer’s Market – I’ve even put together a list for you.
I’m going to step back in time a bit to share a berry memory. I grew up in Puyallup, home of Daffodils, U-Pick Berry Farms and little unattended roadside Farmer’s stands – the kind that had an old MJB coffee can to hold the money and your honor to pay for that forearm sized zucchini. I also grew up in the 70’s with gas lines stretching for blocks, job shortages combined with a recession meaning trouble for a lot of folks. Our family was no different and my Father ended up out of work.
With my Dad tirelessly looking for work and struggling to find anything, my Mom went job seeking to help and found work at Valley Packers, working the conveyor line sorting out the cruddy berries from the good ones. She used to wear this heavy white rubber apron that she would scrub down every night. It was stained red with the berry juices and I LOVED the way it smelled, I know… I’m weird. Every once in a while she would slip a couple super plump, super sweet berries in the apron pocket at the end of her shift and bring them home as a little treat for my Brother and me. This is my first memories of the taste of berries and I haven’t found a berry as sweet as they were back then.
So I managed to pick up 4 different kinds of berries and as I was standing at my kitchen counter sorting through them I absentmindedly put my finger to my nose and inhaled… I was 5 again and picturing my Mom in that red stained white apron gathering us around close with her hands behind her back while we eagerly awaited the reveal of what sweet little treasure she had to share with us. So this recipe is for my Mom… sweet, a teeny bit tart, a little crusty around the edges and all put together…. absolutely beautiful.
Recipe notes: If you don’t have all 4 varieties of berries you can mix and match, or make this with just one kind of berry as long as the measurement is the same. And also… don’t be frightened of the Black Pepper as a spice, it plays beautifully with berry fruits.
Crispy Berry Crumble
Preheat oven to 350º
- 1 Cup of each – Strawberry (quartered), Blueberry, Raspberry & Blackberry
- 1 1/2 Cups White Sugar
- 1/3 Cup Flour – All Purpose
- 1/2 Teaspoon Cornstarch
- 1 Vanilla Bean (insides scraped out) or 1 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper – finely ground
- Zest of 1/2 Lemon
- Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Combine and mix together in a large bowl, being careful to not crush the berries too much. When thoroughly mixed pour into an 8″x13″ baking dish – or something close – the fruit filling should fill the baking pan 1/2 way up the side, do not overfill the pan as it will result in spillover during the baking process.
- 1 1/2 Cups Light Brown Sugar
- 1 Cup Flour – All Purpose
- 1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
- 1/2 Cup Slivered Almonds
- 3/4 Cup Butter – unsalted, cold and cut into 1/2″ cubes
- 1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- Pinch of Salt
Put everything into a large bowl and using either a pastry cutter or your hands, start mixing until the butter is incorporated. Do not use a food processor as it will pulverize the oats and almonds leaving this topping with an unpleasant graininess. You will know the topping is ready when you can pinch a large finger full and it holds together.
Final Assembly and Baking
Using your hands start sprinkling the topping mixture over the berries you’ve poured in your baking pan. The ideal thickness is about 1/2″ to 3/4″, you are likely to have a little leftover topping, so save this for topping your next batch of muffins.
Place the baking pan into your 350º oven and bake for 45 minutes, until the top is a nice toasty brown and the edges of the topping have bubbling fruit peeking out.
Let it cool down for about 15 minutes. Then when you can comfortably (and carefully!) touch the side of the baking pan for 5 seconds, it is ready to be served warm. Top it with fresh whip cream or a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Wanna pick your own Strawberries? I just got notification from the folks at Stocker Farms that their U-Pick Strawberry Field is open!
Located at 8203 Marsh Road, Snohomish WA 98296
1 mile West of Highway 9 or 1 mile East from the bottom of Seattle Hill Road
Look for the yellow building to the North of Marsh Road.
U-Pick is open from 10am to 4pm Tuesday through Sunday
Price per pound for Strawberries is $1.80
For more information visit Stocker Farms website.
Full disclosure: I have received no compensation from Stocker Farms for this article.
Images by Kelly Cline ©2010 All Rights Reserved
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