I'm afraid that my fall raspberry crop may not be as good as it was looking a couple of weeks ago. I've typically found that picking the berries about every other day has been just about right, but as I have been heading out to the raspberry patch every other day, I've been noticing that there are a lot of berries that aren't quite making it that long. There are berries that have been unusually soft and overripe to the point of falling off the canes on their own. At first I had to count back and make sure that I hadn't somehow missed a day, but then this update from University of Minnesota Extension appeared in my Facebook news feed earlier this week and things started to make a little more sense.
The culprit: Spotted Wing Drosophila, a fruit fly that has been wrecking havoc on fall berry crops. I live in one of the 11 Minnesota counties where its presence has been confirmed, and based on my observations in the berry patch, I'm pretty confident that it is what I'm dealing with. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is asking gardeners who notice signs of the pest to report details (date, location, etc.), so I have sent an email and photos of what I am seeing in my little patch. I'm not sure if there will be any follow up or if they are simply recording the data, but I will certainly post an update if I learn more.
In the meantime, I am doing what I can to manage the situation. I'm now picking the berries every day, and I am picking any berry that is close to ripe, including berries that I would have otherwise given another day to reach perfection. I am making sure to remove any berries that might be effected from the patch before discarding them, and any berries that make it in the house are getting an extra thorough washing and going over before doing anything with them. The berry harvests are overall smaller, but with a little bit of careful work, it will not be a total loss.
And that's where this Salsa Week recipe comes in: it doesn't take a lot of berries and since the berries need to be broken down slightly in the first place, it doesn't matter if you open up the berry a little bit to make sure it's unblemished on the outside and the inside.
I'm calling this a "dessert salsa" because it reminds me much more of a fruit salad with salsa components than typical fruit salsa. But make no mistake, there's a lot of salsa flavor in every bite and the recipe could easily be adapted to play it up or down, depending on your mood or how you plan to serve it.
Raspberry Dessert Salsa
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1 teaspoon sugar
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
Fresh cilantro leaves
Fresh mint leaves
Juice from half a lime
Wash berries and slightly break them down (by hand or with a masher). Set aside. Add the sugar to a small bowl and muddle the minced jalapeno, a couple of sprigs of finely chopped cilantro leaves, and 1 or 2 finely chopped fresh mint leaves. Add the raspberries and lime juice and combine well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let flavors develop. Try serving it with baked cinnamon sugar tortilla wedges for scooping!
Labels: peppers, raspberries, recipes, Salsa Week