Berried Out?

5 ways to Use Up Leftover Berries

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Got a little carried away at the U-pick farm and now buried in berries? Maybe you took advantage of the farmers market deal and bought three baskets instead of just one? Preserve or use up the surplus in a variety of ways, from hearty salads to tart-sweet syrups.

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1) Freezing
Wash and dry the berries. Trim, then freeze them whole or in pieces in a single layer until solid. Store in freezer bags, then make smoothies or throw them into drinks or cocktails as flavored ice cubes.

Strawberry & Limoncello Rosé Sangria
Serves 6

¾ cup Limoncello
1 cup Fresh or thawed raspberries
1 cup Fresh or thawed strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 bottle chilled Demi-sec rosé champagne
1 Lemon, thinly sliced, seeds discarded (lemon wheels)

In a large pitcher, combine the limoncello and the strawberries. Top with the chilled rosé champagne and stir in half of the lemon wheels.

Pour the sangria into ice filled stemware. Scoop some fruit into each glass and garnish with a lemon wheel.

Recipe Notes: You can also make this with a non-sparkling dry rosé wine.

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2) Jams
If the thought of canning jam intimidates you, skip it if you'll eat the jam quickly enough, or just freeze the jam in small quantities instead. Jam can be folded into whipped cream to make a fruit fool, used as an ice cream topper or sandwiched between cookies.

Triple Berry Quick Jam
Makes about 2 cups

1 pint Fresh raspberries (about ¾ pound / 2¼ cups) 
½ pint Fresh blackberries (about 7 ounces / 1½ cups)
½ lb. Fresh strawberries (1¾ cup), hulled and thickly sliced
1 cup (6½ ounces) Natural cane sugar (like turbinado)
Pinch Kosher salt
1 tsp Lemon zest
1 tsp Lemon juice

In a large bowl, combine the berries and sugar and let them macerate for about 10 minutes, or until the sugar has begun to dissolve into the fruit. Transfer them to a heavy pot and place on the burner over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Add the salt, lemon zest and lemon juice and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Allow the berries to gently simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the fruit breaks down and the mixture starts to cook down, thickening slightly. If the fruit isn’t breaking down on its own, use the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to help it out. (I tend to like a chunkier jam so I don’t go to great lengths to do this.)

When almost done, the jam will still be loose (it’ll firm up more as it cools), but should coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove the jam from the heat and pour into your favorite clean glass jars to cool. Cap and allow it to cool completely. Transfer the jars to the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 6 months.

Recipe Notes: I always freeze my jam in tupperware or plastic containers, but if you want to use glass jars, avoid the ones with the curvature just beneath the lid (jam expands slightly and you don't want it pushing up against those curves). Straight-sided jars are best.


3) Pickles
Pickling adds sourness and changes the character of the berries to sweet-tart-savory, making them more versatile to use in savory dishes. Pickles are a great way to preserve berries for a longer period of time.

Quick Pickled Berries

Enough berries to fill a one pint mason jar
¾ cup Sugar
1 cup Water
2 Tbsps Light honey
¼ cup White wine vinegar
½ tsp Fennel seed, lightly crushed
1 Tbsp Black mustard seed, lightly crushed
2 Cloves
Special Equipment: 1 pint Mason jar

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan, bring to the boil. Add berries and return to boil. Simmer until just soft, approximately one minute. Remove berries with a slotted spoon and place in mason jar. Add remaining ingredients to the saucepan and simmer until syrupy—about five minutes.

Pour syrup into jar directly over berries. Cap jar immediately, let cool and place in fridge. Berries will be ready to eat in three days.

Recipe Notes: These berries will last for months in the fridge. Of course, that depends entirely on how many martinis you're planning to serve between now and then.

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4) Salads
Berries can replace the tomatoes in your normal salad, be sprinkled on to add sweetness or acidity, or be used a healthy way to flavor and thicken salad dressings.
Strawberry-Arugula Salad with Ricotta Topping
Serves 8-10

4 pints Strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced into quarters
1 pint Raspberries, washed and blotted dry
1-2 cups Sliced almonds
1 small bunch Baby arugula, sliced into thin ribbons
Kosher salt
2 Lemons, zested and juiced
1½ cups fresh, drained Ricotta cheese
2 Tbsps sugar (or more, to taste)
½ tsp Nutmeg

Toss the strawberries, raspberries, almonds and sliced arugula with a pinch of kosher salt and the zest of 1 lemon. For the dressing: In a separate bowl, mix the lemon juice and remaining lemon zest with the ricotta, sugar and nutmeg. Taste and sweeten to taste, if necessary. Serve salad with the dressing on the side.

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5) Sauces and Syrups
Sauces and syrups are a good way to use up a lot of berries but still end up with a versatile condiment that's intensely flavored. Cook the berries down with sugar or a sweetener, blend, and strain out any seeds if you want. Add a little lemon or lime juice to balance it all out and fancy up your pancakes or waffles.

Blackberry Syrup
Yields about ½ cup

This isn't a particularly thick syrup since it doesn't get any help from added thickeners. The key here is reducing it down to your desired thickness and allowing it to chill.

1 lb fresh or frozen Blackberries, thawed if frozen
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsps Sugar, plus more to taste
¼ cup Water
Juice from one lemon

In a medium saucepan, bring the blackberries, sugar, water and lemon juice to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until berries are falling apart and sauce has thickened just a bit, 20 to 25 minutes.

Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve, pushing to extract all of the liquid from the berries. Transfer to the refrigerator; sauce will thicken as it chills. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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Bonus Recipe

No-Bake Berry Cheesecake Verrines
Serves 4

For the crust:
¾ cup Graham cracker crumbs
1 Tbsp Brown sugar
2 tsps unsalted Butter, melted

For the cheesecake custard:
4 oz Cream cheese, softened and cut into pieces
1 cup Whole milk
1 cup Heavy cream
½ cup Granulated sugar
1 Tbsp Vanilla bean paste
1½ sheets Gelatin (See Recipe Note)

For the berry gelee:
¾ cup chopped Strawberries
¾ cup Raspberries
juice of half a Lemon
⅓ cup granulated Sugar
1½ sheets Gelatin (See Recipe Note)

Extra Berries, for serving

To make the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and melted butter until moistened. Divide the mixture equally between 1-cup-sized glass containers or ramekins. Use the back of a spoon to pack in the mixture into a firm layer. Refrigerate until firm.

To make the custard, combine the milk and cream in a measuring cup. Place the cream cheese in a mixing bowl and pour about ½ cup of the milk mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese. Whisk until smooth.

Bloom 1½ gelatin sheets by placing them in a glass of ice cold water and set it aside for about 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place the remaining cream mixture in a medium saucepan. Stir in the sugar and vanilla. Warm over medium heat until mixture begins to simmer. Once the mixture begins to simmer, stir in the cream cheese mixture and turn heat to low.

Squeeze the water out of the gelatin sheets. Remove cream mixture from heat and temper in the gelatin until combined (see Recipe Note). Strain into a measuring cup.

Divide the custard mixture between the containers, pouring it on top of the graham cracker crust layer. Let set in the refrigerator until firm, at least 4 hours.

Once the cream cheese layer is set, bloom the 1½ gelatin sheets for the berry gelee in cold water.

To make the berry gelee, place the chopped strawberries and raspberries in a medium saucepan. Add in the lemon juice and sugar. Warm over medium heat. Cook the mixture until the berries break down a bit, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Puree mixture for a minute or two with a hand blender until liquified. Press the berry mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds and pulp.

Squeeze the water out of the gelatin sheets. Temper into the warm berry juice (see Recipe Note). Carefully pour berry mixture on top of the cream cheese layers. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to set, or for up to 4 days. Serve with a topping of fresh berries.

Recipe Note: Substituting Gelatin Powder for Gelatin Sheets:  One packet equals one sheet. Tempering the Gelatin Sheets: To dissolve the gelatin sheets, first squeeze out as much water as possible. In a separate mixing bowl, add a portion of the hot mixture (in this case, the cream or fruit puree) and whisk in the gelatin sheets until the gelatin has dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Pour this new mixture back into the cream or fruit puree, and stir until combined.

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