For the longest time, the idea of a berry season in Haiti seemed foreign to me. Even though fraises des bois grew everywhere like wild berries, as a child these were the only berry variety I knew. I thus thought an actual berry season only existed in other countries. Indeed, when we were kids, my siblings and I did handpick fraises des bois on our mountain hikes. They were a fun fruity twist to our three-hour walks to Kenscoff, the nearest town. Most importantly, they made those trips more bearable on our short legs as you will find out if you head over to my Wild berries ? Berries ? « Rezen » ? article.
I couldn’t help but envy those kids in my books, however.
I am sure many Haitian girls from my generation can relate. We grew up reading and collecting books like Martine and Comtesse de Ségur. These books took us on endless adventures and made us dream of a life in the wild. Les Petites Filles Modèles from my Comtesse de Ségur collection, often made a mess and stained their clothes handpicking a wide variety of berries. And, for the longest time, I wished I could do the same.
Today, thirty years later, my berry picking adventure dream has finally come true.
I even made sure to make a mess…with my hands. Lately, I have been rocking a new French manicure on my nails. I call it the Berry-French. I can happily say that we do have a berry season in Haiti. These past few weeks, we have harvested mulberries, strawberries and wild berries. Needless to say, I have been on many fun culinary berry adventures. And this is just the beginning.
Below, you will find a list of my most recent concoctions from this berry season.
I am sure this repertoire will expand now that we’re spending more time quarantined at home with the coronavirus. I will keep you updated on Instagram. In the meantime, enjoy the ideas below. Most importantly, embrace them as your own!
Handpick and eat them:
This is perhaps my favorite way of enjoying mulberries. You will often catch me at the wee hours of the morning, when the night dew hasn’t even dried yet, coffee in hand juggling to handpick the fruits. I call that my morning Vitamin C.
Make some fresh berry juice:
When I simply cannot eat the many harvests, I turn to juice. We’ve been combining strawberries and berries, pureeing them and enjoying them with ice. I like mine with a squeeze of lime juice. My dad enjoys his with milk. Try both versions. Adopt the one you prefer.
This is perhaps one of the most versatile recipes. It pairs well with waffles and crêpes. I bet it would be a beautiful cake drizzle.
Whip up a fresh batch of zesty mulberry compote or jam with thyme:
This is a great way to preserve the mulberries till long after the season is over. Though, I will confess my batch is already gone. It quickly disappeared in some Greek yogurt topped with homemade granola. But I bet it would be great with some brie or camembert. I am definitely eating my next batch this way. Because there will be a few next batches!
Use them to garnish a copious breakfast:
What’s dreamier than homemade waffles or crêpes topped with fresh berries? It’s the perfect complement to the mulberry curd.
- Prepare a cocktail:
I could never let the berry season end without a happy hour! To make the perfect quick cocktail: simply mash some fresh berries with sugar, lime juice and a few freshly handpicked ti bonm leaves, add some berry juice and finish with your favorite spirit. Mine is white rum.
Bake a pie:
You can quickly prepare one using the same ingredients as the compote. Just combine them uncooked on a pie dough. Use this recipe as your guide. I added some rapadou and thyme to mine to give it an extra oomph.
Make ice cream:
This is a dream of mine. But, these days, the electricity doesn’t last long enough for me to go on this frozen adventure. I would surely end up with just another glass of creamy mulberry juice. I do hope to be able to prepare some one day soon. You will of course be the firsts to hear all about it.
Put the fruits in a bottle filled with kleren and a few spoonful of sugar. In a few months, you will have a tranpe to help you warm up in the winter.
A zesty lime & thyme mulberry compote
- 1½ cup of mulberries
- ½ cup of sugar
- 1 lime juice
- 1 zest of lime
- 1 sprig of thyme
- Wash the mulberries and cut the green stems out
- Transfer to a non stick pan (I used the Red Copper Non-Stick Pan) sprinkle with the lime zest and thyme
- Cover with the sugar and drizzle the lime juice
- Cook uncovered on low heat until syrupy about 40 minutes, making sure to mash the fruits to help them release their juice
- Transfer to a glass jar and preserve