My boysenberry Brulee plants have been in the ground since late 2014 and finally I’ve got some to eat. Last year I only had a few tasty fruit, then I battled with caterpillars stripping the leaves so it wasn’t a great season. This year I’ve had a bumper crop. Apart from loads of kale and maybe a few days where I had more strawberries than we could eat, this is my first real ‘glut’ so it’s quite exciting. I think the coldish wettish lead up to Christmas helped the plants get some good leaf growth and then fruit without drying out. January has suddenly turned DRY so just as well I finally laid soaker lines to most of the veggie garden which means I can turn on the tap and get most of it watered instead of bucketing or standing there with the hose. I’m watering the newer plants, tomatoes and sweetcorn most days now – the rest get a big soak every two or three days. The berry house is on the same line as the pumpkin and sweetcorn bed so they also get watered most days and I think they’ve benefited from that this year. The caterpillars set in again before Christmas. Last year I used Kiwicare Organic Control to stop them, but that was when they weren’t fruiting. Now that the plants are covered in masses of fruit I don’t want to spray anything on them. It does mean I have to really soak the fruit to get rid of the caterpillars (turns out they don’t just like the leaf!) Freezing and cooking will kill them and it probably wouldn’t do any harm to eat them but I doubt everyone wants to be eating bugs whether dead or alive.
With this glut I’ve been working on ways to use the fruit while avoiding the obvious which is to make jam or jelly. I’m not much of a baker and I don’t think I’m a jam maker either.
Ways to use up boysenberries
Fresh: on their own or on museli or ice-cream. The ripe fruit are quite sweet but even with my non-sweet tooth I have to admit that they’re tart so we haven’t been eating many this way.
- Natural – cook up the berries on their own or with apple to use to add to desserts. Add the smallest amount of water to stop them sticking initially then simmer for ten minutes. This can be frozen to use in winter for crumbles.
- Sweetened – to use on dessert add sugar to two cups of berries and 1/4 cup of water. How much sugar you add depends on how sweet you like it – I use about 1/4 cup. Simmer for ten minutes. We use it over ice-cream but it would be good in any desserts.
- Smooth and sweet – take the above sweetened sauce and push it through a sieve to get rid of the pips. Although I hate waste, getting rid of the pips didn’t mean as much left over as I’d first thought. And the pouring sauce is far more elegant without the pips.
Smoothies: I’m not much of a smoothie maker despite good intentions (mostly due to laziness) so tend to only make them in the weekend. The berries go well in a smoothie of course and I’ve also been freezing them to use later for smoothies or crumbles. To freeze the washed whole berries, first place them on a plate so they’re not touching each other. Once frozen put them in a bag or container. If you put them into the bag or container to freeze first you end up with a bag of frozen-ness which needs defrosting before breaking off some of the fruit (as I found with my strawberries).
I’ve been working on ways to streamline the smoothie making process. I like to sneak in some healthiness when making them by adding ginger, lemon, honey and greens but all that takes time. I’ve tried making a concentrated smoothie mix which is all the healthy good stuff mixed up and frozen so it just needs to be defrosted and liquid added to it. So far it hasn’t been too successful as the greens in the defrosted mix makes it look disgusting but hopefully I can refine it and will link to it here.
I’ve also been trying a boysenberry brownie and savoury ways to cook with boysenberries so watch this space….
Some things I’ve learnt about growing boysenberries
- Feed and water well.
- Control caterpillars before the fruit needs picking.
- Boysenberries are ripe when they drop off when you try and pick them. Any resistance and they’re not ripe enough.
- Tie up and stake plants early in the season. I’m struggling to be able to access all the ripe fruit. The stems are thorny so I need rose gloves to get to any in the middle of the plant and back against the netted wall. A few months ago I couldn’t imagine that the plants would be so vigorous and productive.
- Birds love berries so they need careful netting. Mine are in a fully netted enclosure and I’m constantly fixing holes I’m sure the birds are making. Once they worked out they liked the berries they have been a nightmare to try and keep out. On the plus side it does away with my problem above – how to pick ripe berries I can’t reach.