My favorite pick-your-own farm opens this coming Friday! I'm so excited! It's still too early for the tomatoes we always pick there but it's time for all kinds of other vegetables- cucumbers, peppers, and early sweet corn, plus a few surprises when you get there.
Even though it's too early for tomatoes, I still had that burning desire to get in the kitchen and can something so off I went in search of a different pick-your-own farm, one that offers fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and cherries. It was a bit of a drive from the lake but that's exactly what I found just outside of Altoona, Iowa, at Upstream Gardens and Orchard.
Upstream is a very new pick-your-own farm that is expanding like crazy, and even though this is just their second year offering to the public they have quite a nice variety of items available. Of course, it varies by the season but they have just about every kind of berry that grows in Iowa, an awesome selection of vegetables and a growing orchard with apples, peaches, pears and plums. I visited today and got golden raspberries and mulberries, got to meet Chris, the owner, and play with the farm kitties- momma and babies. I paid a little extra for pre-picked so I wouldn't have to worry about being too short to reach the tree branches when picking mulberries.
So I now have this wonderful fruit, and my next dilemma is what in the heck to make with it. Jam as single fruits or make a combo? Use the raspberries for the chocolate raspberry sauce all my canning friends have been making and raving about? Cobbler? Pie? Ugh, too many decisions sometimes. After much agonizing and debating inside my head I finally settled on making the chocolate raspberry sauce. I have plenty of jam already and more raspberries will be coming in the fall. This recipe is originally from the Ball canning book. The mulberries got stashed away in the freezer for now. I'll make something delicious with them later.
Chocolate Raspberry Sauce
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 package regular powdered pectin
4 1/2 cups crushed raspberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 3/4 cups sugar
Combine the pectin and cocoa in a small bowl, using a whisk to ensure it's evenly mixed. Set aside.
In a large stockpot combine the raspberries and lemon juice. Gradually mix in the cocoa mixture until completely combined. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently.
Add the sugar all at once and mix in. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, then remove from heat. Skim off any foam. Ladle the hot mixture into prepared 8 ounce or 4 ounce jars. I like the 4 ounce jars since we are a family of two.
Fix lids and rings and place in boiling water bath canner, Process for 20 minutes. Remove jars to a towel on the counter and allow to cool overnight before checking seals and removing rings.
This sauce is awesome warmed up and poured over ice cream, and makes a great sauce for unfrosted cake. It's so decadent and delicious you'll be glad you tried it. Also- if you like to make homemade gifts for holiday gifts, this is a great one- if raspberries are not in season and you don't have any tucked away in the freezer, frozen purchased raspberries work just as well. Just pour the frozen berries into a bowl and crush them while still partially frozen, measure, and carry on!
NOTE: This recipe is tested and approved by Ball.