I'm trying to cling to the few moments and memories of a weekend that was beyond glorious. I went blackberry and blueberry picking in Maryland on Saturday, and despite heat and humidity it simply was one of the best things I've done in a good long while. Few things in life compare to the taste of a fresh warm blackberry, so juicy and ripe it practically falls off the vine and into your hand.
For years I've heard people extol blueberry picking, but after this weekend I think they're silly. Picking a blueberry was nice, fun, and occasionally rewarding, but the blackberries were bliss. A treasure hunt to find the very best, and a heart wrenching debate between putting the berries in the bucket or just eating them right there.
We spent our afternoon lounging in the warm shade pond-side, eating berries, ice cream, peach licorice whips, drinking root beer and trying to create a life plan that let us live in both the country and the city, to somehow get to pick sun-ripened blackberries before going to a museum gala. If only the end of the red line metro was a berry picking farm...and I owned it.
Coming back from berry picking, I wasn't ready to give up on the country life just yet. I went into the yard and perused my garden, finding a baby pumpkin, harvesting handfuls of thyme and rosemary for freezing, picking a zucchini and only just then I realized that my basil forest was out of control. To some degree I have the farm life in DC. I have an amazing and lovely garden that I'm very pleased with....it just doesn't have blackberries. Somewhere out there, one (or one thousand) of you are calling me a brat, and completely jealous (cough: Natalie) and........yeah, you're right. I am a lucky person...I'll stop now before the threatening emails begin.
So with my basil bounty I had to do something. I already have a year supply of basil pesto ice cubes, so, I'm getting creative! Not sure just how to use the basil sugar yet, but oh I will and it will be lovely!
1 tablespoon basil pulp*
1 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 200.
In a stand mixer, on a medium speed combine sugar and basil pulp. From here you can get creative. Using molds, ice cube trays or forming sugar cubes. You can also simply spread the sugar over the baking sheet to create regular granular sugar. Bake for at least 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.**
*to make basil pulp either use a food processor or mortar and pestle to grind handfuls of basil until the one tablespoon is reached. If there is excess juice, include the juice in the sugar mixture along with the pulp.
**I store my basil sugar in the freezer, just in case.