Toward the end of every summer, my family looks forward to the progression of ripening fruits available for picking at O’Brien’s Garden and Trees.
All winter we enjoyed pies and scones and muffins made from the spoils of last year’s picking, but they ran out far too soon, so this year I’m planning to stuff every crevice and corner of our freezer not already claimed by this year’s salmon.
The strawberries had already been mostly picked by the time we arrived, but the branches of the honeyberry bushes are drooping, heavily laden with their tart, plump fruit. Honeyberries have a similar flavor to blueberries, but are larger and oblong, and range from very sweet to very tart depending on the variety. You just need to sample a few to find your favorite.
O’Brien’s is a “you pick” farm open seven days a week (hours and pricing available on their Facebook page). They also usually have some picked pints for quick sale if you want some fruit to go. Take your time and walk the grounds — you might find a friendly frog amongst the trees or catch a glimpse of a bunny darting under the fence.
They also host special events like apple tastings and occasional educational events. Check their page for upcoming events.
We missed it this year, but when the cherry trees are blooming, they invite people to walk the tunnels to enjoy the sight and scent of the lovely pink blossoms. Available now for picking are strawberries, honeyberry, pie cherries, red currants, black currants and snap peas. Peaches are coming soon!
Before I stored away my 11-pound haul of honeyberries, I decided to make a pie. This simple recipe is perfect for showcasing the flavor of the berries, which can be on the tart side, so pair with vanilla ice cream for balance.
For the crust — (double the recipe to make enough for a full top)
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter — cold, in chunks
1 teaspoon sugar (optional, but recommended)
1 teaspoon salt
4-8 tablespoons ice water
For the filling
6 cups fresh honeyberries
⅔ cup sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon cinnamon
The zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Make the dough for the crust. In the bowl of your food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt.
Add the butter piece by piece while blending until all the butter has been incorporated. The dough should be crumbly.
Drizzle in the ice water one tablespoon at a time until the dough clumps. You may not need all 8 tablespoons.
Turn the dough out and form into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Make the filling by combining all the filling ingredients in a large bowl, mixing roughly so¼ of the berries burst. There should be enough juice in the bowl so that you can no longer see dry ingredients.
Roll your dough out to⅓-inch thick, line your pie pan, then pour the filling right in.
Either cover completely with another⅓-inch-thick crust (being sure to cut vents in the top) or cut strips of dough to create a lattice top like I did.
Brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with sparkly sugar to decorate.
Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees then drop the temperature to 350 and bake for another 30-40 minutes. You may need to protect the edges of the crust with tin foil if they start to get too dark — keep an eye on it.
It is very important that you allow this pie to cool completely before cutting into it. If you fail to do this, your impatience will be rewarded with honeyberry soup instead of clean pie slices.