Berries are the unofficial, official fruit of summer in Vermont. What else could compete? The berry harvest in Vermont offers variety in both flavor and color. There are endless options when it comes to berry-inspired foods. Good nutrition never tasted sweeter than the summer berry harvest!
Where Berries Grow
Although we love our berries here, Vermont is not the only place where they are cultivated, harvested and enjoyed during the hot summer months. This month, we take our harvest tour of the world to Sweden, where there is one summertime celebration in which berries, specifically strawberries, are front and center.
Swedes and Strawberries
Swedes look forward to their short and very sweet strawberry season. The climate in Sweden, with its warm, sunny days and cool nights is perfect for growing strawberries. They are known for being extremely juicy, sweet and flavorful. Combine their deliciousness with their simple beauty and the nutrition they provide – more vitamin C than an orange per cup plus folate, potassium, fiber and plenty of beneficial antioxidants and phytochemicals – and you have one flawless fruit.
It makes sense that the Swedes would include strawberries in their beloved celebration of summer known as Midsummer. The Midsummer holiday is centered upon the summer solstice, so it generally takes place at the end of June. Conveniently that is the peak of strawberry season. It is celebrated in many countries, especially those in Northern Europe. In Sweden, the holiday is an important part of the heritage and culture.
A Traditional Swedish Midsummer Party
A traditional Midsummer fête is an all-day outdoor party that includes decorating, rising and dancing around the maypole, gathering flowers to weave into crowns, bonfires, and of course a tasty seasonal feast.
The foods served always include pickled herring, boiled new potatoes with sour cream and chives, and plenty of strawberries – usually served with fresh whipped cream for dessert. Keeping the menu and preparation of the food uncomplicated allows everyone to enjoy the fresh flavors of the season. This is one of the keys to most summer fare, from berries to other favorites like tomatoes and corn – all of which taste great with little fuss and preparation necessary.
This Month’s Recipe: Berry Watermelon Fruit Salad
This month’s recipe is as easy as “cooking” gets. And, the end result is both flavorful and healthy. Just cut up the fruit and toss with freshly squeezed lime juice for added flavor and you are good to go!
Adding some chopped mint gives this recipe an interesting flavor twist. That being said, with the cherries, watermelon and multiple types of berries, nothing else is really needed to make this fruit salad delicious. Serve it as a side dish at a summer gathering, or top with fresh whipped cream for a light dessert to celebrate ‘midsummer!’
For more on berries including recipes, book recommendations, and fun activities for kids, check out the Vermont Harvest of the Month website.
Berry Watermelon Fruit Salad
- 4cupswatermelon, cubed
- 1ptstrawberries, hulled and quartered
- 1ptcherries, pitted and halved
- Squeeze of fresh lime juice
- Cut all the fruit into bite sized pieces. Add to a large bowl, and gently toss together.
- Top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, to taste.
- Serve chilled.
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Bridget Shea, RD, is a clinical dietician at The University of Vermont Medical Center.