Alone this week, I busied myself with a borrowed dehydrator, a bottle of wine, a flank steak, Ore-Ida frozen hash browns, tofu, crummy supermarket grape tomatoes, a pint of succulent local Bings, frozen blackberry puree, and a half-flat of Willamette raspberries. Honestly, I feel like I could desiccate anything.
But this is about raspberries, and the time of the year I simply love the best. I still think it’s miraculous that raspberries grow so well here, and they are beautiful and delicious and huge. My raspberries, razzleberried up in the first shot here, are coming along slowly, given that it’s only their second year, but my Meekers are amazing and my Newburghs, although a bit rougher-looking than the perfectly conical, tight-fleshed Meekers, are sweet and delicious. My Amity and Heritage raspberries, and my single black raspberry, a Munger, are taking their own sweet time. So I went out an bought some Willamettes, not nearly as nice as Meekers, but still much better than anything you can get in the supermarket.
So I set about trying to destroy them.
First, I dried a few pints, against the advice of the Preservation Wise Ones, who said that the quality doesn’t hold up. I thought they’d be good thrown in cereal. I still do, although the sweetness was largely sucked away and they turned very seedy, even the largest ones.
Next, I added a handful of raspberries to a jar full of Italian white wine vinegar, along with some Szechuan peppercorns and star anise. The mild sweetness of the raspberries seems to be working well with the floral heat of the peppercorns and the spicy undertone of the star anise. The vinegar needs to sit and steep for a couple weeks before using it. Making flavored vinegars is a forgiving, beginner-level activity that everyone should try! You should avoid containers with metal caps. Don’t worry too much about fresh herbs or fruits spoiling in the concoction– the vinegar is a great preservative — but aim for no more than a ratio of 1:3 fruit:vinegar.
1 T. raspberry vinegar, preferably homemade
1-2 T. sugar, or to taste
pint glass filled with ice
carbonated water or club soda
fresh mint to garnish
Mix together vinegar and sugar until dissolved. Add vinegar mixture to glass filled with ice, then top with carbonated water. Garnish with mint sprig. Drink shouldn’t be too sweet for maximum refreshment.
By the way, it’s not local, but if you can afford a bottle of St. George’s Aqua Perfecta Meeker raspberry eau-de-vie or raspberry liqueur, be sure to pick one up. And another one for me, kthxbai.