Plot your own berry patch to yield sweet fruit all spring and summer long. We've got you covered with recipes that make the most of your harvest by prolonging the berries' flavor well past the growing season.
Meet Our Growers Jay and Graham Yelton live near Cooking Light headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. These avid gardeners oversee a yard that's packed with containers of delicious plants and stylish spaces for outdoor entertaining. "We have a passion for eating organic, plant-based diets whenever possible," Graham says. This year, the Cooking Light Garden celebrates the joy and ease of growing themed containers. We enlisted the Yeltons' help to make our plans a beautiful reality, then brought their bounty back to our kitchen to create simple, straightforward recipes that will put your crop to delicious use. Grow, harvest, and cook along with us.
Pink Icing Blueberries Dwarf varieties of blueberries (find this particular type at brazelberries.com) are great options for folks who are new to container growing. Their lovely foliage and manageable size make them perfect for a patio or small growing space.
Apache Thornless Blackberries Well-tended plants can yield berries for up to 20 years with the right care. Give them sun and well-drained soil, and pick every three to six days.
Chandler Strawberries Pick off blossoms during the plant's first year. This will encourage it to develop healthy roots and yield larger quantities next year.
Dorman Red Raspberries Plant in a spot with plenty of sunshine, and give consistent moisture—1 to 2 inches of indirect water every two weeks (or every week while they're producing fruit).
Your berries will flourish if you opt for varieties that grow best in your area—seek out a locally owned nursery for guidance. We worked with Alabama's Petals from the Past (petalsfromthepast.com) to source many of these plants.
Fresh Blackberry Granita with Lemon Syrup Hands-on: 25 min. Total: 4 hr. 25 min. Make the lemon syrup while the granita freezes, and refrigerate; strain before serving. Top with extra berries, if desired.
2 lemons 1 1/2 cups water 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided 2 tablespoons dark rum 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 pounds fresh blackberries 2 thyme sprigs 1/4 cup warm water Grated lemon rind (optional)
- Using a vegetable peeler, remove strips of rind from lemons; reserve. Juice 1 lemon. Place 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 1/2 cups water, 1 cup sugar, rum, salt, and blackberries in a blender; blend 2 minutes. Strain blackberry mixture through a fine sieve over a 13x9-inch glass baking dish, pressing on solids with a spatula until only seeds remain. Discard seeds. Cover and freeze 4 hours or until firm, stirring with a fork every 45 minutes. Remove mixture from freezer; scrape entire mixture with a fork until fluffy.
- Combine reserved rind strips, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, and thyme in a medium bowl; muddle 1 minute. Let stand 10 minutes. Add 1/4 cup warm water to rind mixture, stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves. Strain mixture through a sieve over a bowl; discard solids. Place 1 cup granita in each of 8 dessert glasses; drizzle 1 tablespoon lemon syrup over each serving. Sprinkle evenly with grated lemon rind, if desired.
Fresh Raspberry-Vanilla Preserves Hands-on: 49 min. Total: 3 hr. 49 min. Reducing the first press of the macerated raspberry mixture before adding the rest intensifies the raspberry flavor. Kiwis are naturally very high in pectin—just one will thicken the preserves nicely. For quick but dazzling desserts, warm the jam in a medium saucepan over low heat and spoon over grilled pound cake, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.
2 cups sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 pounds fresh raspberries 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise 1 kiwi, peeled and finely chopped 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- Combine sugar, salt, and raspberries in a medium bowl. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; add seeds and bean to raspberry mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Place raspberry mixture in a fine sieve over a bowl. Press on solids with a spatula to extract liquid; reserve solids. Place raspberry liquid in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add reserved solids and any remaining liquid to pan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add kiwi; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes or until mixture has thickened and bubbles pop slowly on the surface. Remove pan from heat; cool 5 minutes. Discard bean. Stir in butter until melted. Cool completely. Place in an airtight container; refrigerate up to 2 weeks.