I come from a long line of berry pickers. My parents took me foraging for wild blueberries at a young age and also planted me in the middle of a field of strawberries while they picked (I picked too, but most berries ended up in my belly before we left the farm). I've learned that berry picking (and growing) is a popular Scandinavian past time as well and my family there marks the seasons with what berries are growing out in the forest.
When the cold dark days of winter have passed, I guess those of us in Northern climates love seeing any bright spot that summer is near. In the Pacific Northwest, salmonberries grow wild along the banks of streams and you can see their bright pink flowers in May and soon after the berries begin to appear.
I've been eagerly awaiting the salmonberries growing along the creek behind our house to ripen. This has been one of the coldest and wettest May/June period for awhile in Seattle and I doubt the strawberries will turn out very sweet this year. Salmonberries are grown in the shade though and seem to thrive in the wet, cool, early summer weather we are experiencing.
Sunday afternoon turned out to be warm - almost 70 (!) - and it was the perfect evening to head out for a walk with my bucket in hand. Despite the nettles, I managed to pick about 2 cups worth of berries.
Salmonberries - despite my romantic vision of them - are sorely lacking in both flavor and sweetness. They have almost an earthy, rhubarb-like taste to them. I decided to make a syrup/coulis that I could use to mix up some sort of cocktail.
This turned out to be a great idea - the salmonberry syrup, combined with vodka and fresh lime juice and shaken vigorously turned out to be a very tasty cocktail. That combined with the great color the orange-to-red hued berries lent to the drink and the garnish make this a prety cocktail as well.
1 oz. salmonberry syrup (see below)
1 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
fresh salmonberries to garnish
Combine liquids in a Boston shaker and add about 1 cup of ice. Shake vigorously for 10-20 seconds. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with fresh salmonberries.
1 cup salmonberries
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Place berries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Mash the berries, then bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until it has cooked down to a thick syrup. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and discard the berry pulp. Store in the fridge until ready to use (lasts up to two weeks.)