There is nothing like summer in Michigan. As a Michigan transplant, from a place where you avoid going outside and run your air-conditioner for the entire summer, I can say I choose this. I love it, and I start day-dreaming about it in January. I may get a bit annoyed by the mosquitos, but I won’t complain. I think the good that summer has to offer completely outweighs any bad. One of the best things about Michigan summers is the berries. Right now it’s wild black raspberries.
My husband and I do quite a bit of picking of wild berries in the summer to make jams for holiday gifts. We haven’t had much luck with the wild black raspberry season over the last two years, but this year is fantastic! On Sunday we picked a gallon of berries in about a half an hour. Because the the berries are so plentiful this year I am making good use of them right now in addition to making jams.
What’s more refreshing in the summer than lemonade? How about lemonade that is infused with fresh black raspberry juice and lavender? Yes, lavender. Here is a very easy recipe for infusing sugar with lavender. The syrup is then used to sweeten the lemonade. Each sip has a perfect balance of tart lemons, sweet berries and the pungent, pine-like flavor of lavender.
Harvest the lavender when the blooms are almost fully open. Cut several lavender spikes in the afternoon when the blossoms are dry. With your thumb and index finger, rub buds off into a bowl. You can also clip stalks of lavender and make bundles and dry them for future recipes.
Bring all ingredients to a simmer in a saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, and cool. Cover and store in refrigerator. Filter out the lavender buds before using.
If you have any leftover lavender syrup after making the lemonade, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. The longer you leave the lavender buds in the syrup the more it infuses the flavor. Add 1-2 tablespoons to ice tea or for a summer cocktail add a tablespoon to a glass of dry white wine.
Black Raspberry Lemonade:
1. Place black raspberries in a food processor and blend until raspberries begin to smooth out.
2. Place a cheese cloth over a large bowl and pour black raspberry mixture into the bowl. Pull the ends of the cheesecloth together, twist, and begin to squeeze the liquid until ½ cup of juice is extracted. (NOTE: This process will be messy so wash your hands immediately after squeezing the liquid or wear gloves if you don’t want to stain your hands a reddish-purple)
3. In a pitcher add the lemon juice, raspberry juice and 2 quarts of water and stir.
4. Start by stirring in one cup of lavender syrup and then taste it. Add more syrup if you prefer sweeter lemonade.
5. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. Serve with ice.
The next three images are just a little extra summertime beauty. The first image, of the lemon, titled Lemon with a Twist, is currently on display at the River Gallery in Chelsea, Michigan. It is on display with another image of limes and will be on display through the second week in August. Stop by and have a look if you’re in the area.