One of the goals of One 2 Grow On Farm is to bring unique flavors and new fruits and veggies to our CSA members. A few of those flavors this season went out in this past week's share; sunberries. Sunberries are an interesting fruit. They are part of the nightshade family. In other words, they are essentially a small dark purple to black tomato with a mild flavor. They taste fine on their own, but they really shine when used in jam, pie, tarts, or sauces.
Each member received 1/3 cup of sunberries this week and a perfect way to eat them is to add 1 3/4 Tablespoons sugar and a little bit of lemon juice and cook it down until the syrup thickens. This makes a great sauce for on top of ice cream, pancakes, or put it in the fridge and spread it on some crackers.
The sunberries can be used in almost any recipe that calls for berries. I don't mind them on their own and I like to throw them into my smoothies. They are also a fun addition to fruit salads.
The history of the sunberry is almost as fun as the berry themselves. They were first introduced to the public by Luther Burbank in 1905. Burbank billed it as a cross between two members of the nightshade/tomato family: the garden huckleberry (a plant requiring a large amount of sugar and cooking to make it palatable) and the wolly nightshade (a weed found in Europe, North America, and Australia). Burbank sold the seed to a seed company owned by John Lewis Childs who then changed the name to "Wonderberry". A debate ensued as to whether this was a new variety as Burbank held, or a smaller version of the garden huckleberry. The debate actually damaged Burbank's reputation, but in the end he gets credit for the small fruit in its botanical name, Solanum Burbankii.
The flavor of the Sunberry is a little hard to describe. It does not taste like a cherry or grape tomato, but has the numerous seeds one would expect in a tomato. It is not overly sweet or fruity flavored and has been compared to that of a wild currant.
Another unique flavor our members will be experiencing in the coming weeks is that of the Cream of Saskatchewan Watermelon. This little treat can't be found in stores because the rind is incredibly thin making them extremely difficult to transport. These little beauties grow to about 10 inches around and weigh from 4 to 10 pounds with a unique white flesh that has an extraordinary flavor. It was brought to the US with Russian immigrants. Each Russian town used to have their own watermelon patch and this one was found among the many plants. These particular watermelon were used to eat fresh, pickle, and make a sweet syrup because of its high sugar content.
The syrup was used as a sweetener in baking and in a similar fashion to the way Americans use maple syrup. This particular type of watermelon was also called sugar melon. I can't wait to try one and from the looks of our vines, we will soon have a number of melons ready for each member!
Sunberry Refrigerator Jam
1 cup sunberries
1/3 cup sugar
Peel of ¼ of a medium orange, including the white pith. Cut this into long thin strips about ¼ “ wide.
Half-pint mason jar with lid, sterilized in a hot water bath
Put all ingredients in a small sauce pan and cook on medium heat. Stir and when the berries begin to break down raise the heat to medium-high. As you stir, smash the berries with the back of the spoon or you can use a potato masher until the jam comes to a low boil. Lower heat and simmer to allow the jam to continue to slowly cook for about 45 minutes or until the liquids have reduced by at least 1/3 or the original amount, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat. Remove the orand peels and set aside to cool on a plate (they taste great once they have cooled). Remove the sterilized jhar from the hot water bath and pur in the jam. Coer and refrigerate overnight.
Note** Other kinds of sweeteners can be used, but since the sunberry is so mild, honey and such may overwhelm and mask the flavor of the sunberry.
2 cups Wonderberry (or a mix of berries to your liking)
1 tablespoon(s) Fresh Lemon Juice
1 tablespoon(s) Turbinado Sugar (I use a little more, and I sometimes use white sugar)
Make the dough:
Combine 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Form a well in center of the dry ingredients and place the butter and 1 egg in the well. Using your hands, mix the ingredients into a soft, pliable dough. Form it into a 4-inch disk and place it on lightly floured parchment paper. Lightly dust the dough with flour and roll it into a 10-inch circle. Place dough with parchment on a baking sheet, cover the dough with plastic wrap, and chill for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F.
Make the tarts:
In a small bowl, mix remaining flour and sugar and set aside. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and evenly spread the flour and sugar mixture on the dough, leaving a 1-inch-wide border around the edge. Place berries on top of the mixture and sprinkle with lemon juice. Fold the 1-inch border over top of the berries to form a 9-inch tart.
Bake the tarts:
Lightly brush the top of the tart dough with remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar, if desired. Bake on the middle rack of the oven — about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and slide tarts with the parchment paper onto a wire rack. Cool for 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.
scrape the flesh of a watermelon--seeds and juice included--into a large, heavy kettle. Mash well. Cook this, uncovered, for 30 minutes stirring frequently.
Strain through a cloth or screen to remove the pulp and seeds. Return the strained juice to the kettle (make a note of how much liquid you have at this point) and boil down, stirring constantly, until it thickens and becomes quite dark. At this point, you may stir in 1 Tbsp. of sugar for every 4 cups [1 quart] of watermelon juice that you started out with.
Bring the syrup back to a boil, then pour it into hot, sterilized jars, filling to within 1/2 inch of the rim. Cover with sterilized flats and rings and tighten. Process half pints in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes; pints, 15 minutes. Remove jars from bath and let cool away from drafts.