Berry Berry

It is one of the hazards of being a food blogger that people will call upon you to address weighty matters during pub-time conversations, such as:

When is a berry not a berry?

The answer, of course, is “More often than you might think”, and I would love to be able to say that, when asked, I rattled off the details of this answer to the amazement of all present. Instead, I could only dredge up a dim memory from school biology that there was, indeed, a bit more to the definition of berry than small edible fruit, but I’m afraid no amount of gin & tonic could help me get further than that. Rather, it took a quick chat with my friend the internet before my memory was, er, suitably refreshed.

The fact of the matter is that most of the things that we refer to as berries – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries – are not berries in the botanical sense, whereas some distinctly unberrylike fruits, technically, are (and, yes, banana, I’m looking at you). The crux of the matter is that, botanically speaking, a berry is a simple fruit produced from a single plant ovary. Once other parts of the flower or plant start getting involved in the fruit, you are dealing with a berry no more.

So there you go. I apologise if I have shattered all of your berry-based illusions. You can take some comfort from the fact that gooseberries, at least, are fully paid-up members of the berry clan. Plus it’s doubtful that the plant police are going to swoop down on anyone for persisting with the idea that a blueberry is, y’know, a berry in the commonly understood sense of the word. If they were, I’d have to figure out how to properly refer to both the blueberries I got from my Ma’s local supplier the other day and to the sauce that resulted. Somehow, “the fruit formerly known as blueberry (and sauce thereof)” just doesn’t quite cut it.

Blueberry sauce

Have blueberries, will make sauce

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Fresh Blueberry Sauce

It is safe to assume at least three things if I find myself with blueberries in the house: (1) they will not last long (2) they will mostly get eaten raw, no further preparation required and (3) there will be no time given over to debating the technicalities of their pseudo-berry status.

If I do get as far as cooking with blueberries, they’re likely to be simply stewed with some lemon juice or maybe added to some cornmeal pancakes. The other day, however, I took a notion that I would use them to make a savoury sauce. I was also feeling particularly lazy, so the sauce consisted of nothing more than a few raw ingredients whizzed up in the food processor. After a few tweaks, I really rather liked the results, not least because it was so simple. This is a tangy little sauce which, so far, I’ve liked best served with some baked white fish (I had it with hake and some basmati rice) and also with grilled camembert. Not bad with corn chips either. You could try it with other things like pork perhaps, or just whiz up a batch, taste it and see what else you think might fit.

You’ll need:
  • 200g blueberries
  • 25g red onion
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • scant 0.5 tsp salt (or to taste)
The Steps:
  • Whiz the ingredients together in a food processor or blender until well combined.
  • Serve as a sauce to accompany some baked or steamed white fish or try with some brie or camembert or whatever else takes your fancy.
The Variations:
  • If you want to add a little bit of a kick, you could throw some fresh green chili into the mix.
The Results:
  • If you’re serving with fish, this probably makes enough for about 4 portions.
Comments
  • Shattered, I think not. More like enlightened. I never realized that about berries. Goes to show how much I know about them. ;-)

  • Short and sweet! Very, very berry sweet, GREG

  • Love this blueberry sauce, looks amazing – I was thinking pork as well, and the camembert sounds good too, wonder about a chevre.

  • jenn: happily, the knowledge of whether certain fruit are actual berries or not does not get in the way of our enjoyment of same!

    SippitySup: thank you berry much :)

    OysterCulture: I wondered about a chevre too – haven’t tried it, though I was more inclined towards brie or camembert in this case

  • I must admit that, before reading this whole post, I swooped down to your ingredient list and read “blueberries” and then “onion.” And I was happy:) I love savory fruit-based sauces and chutneys and gastriques and What Not, so this is right up my alley. I think it would also be tasty with most any type of cheese–even poured over a block of cream cheese for a 1970s style party tray:)

    I could even see layering it in as a flavor base to a mysterious stew come chilly weather.

    Berry or not, it looks good!

  • Oh it’s beautiful! Love it, love it! I still have so many blueberries on the tree!

  • Whatever they truly are I love them! Especially the blue ones that don’t last long around me either. Blueberry sauce sounds just divine!

  • Ah, yes the hazards of being a food blogger. My mom says it’s a very dangerous profession (angry restauranteurs tracking us down and all LOL). I’m glad no one’s asked me that berry question yet, I would have answered ‘gooseberry’ and then would’ve had to hang my head in shame! I’m definitely going to try that blueberry sauce with corn chips – I just happen to have all the ingredients on hand and I’m quite intrigued by it :)

  • Hmmm… interesting about berries :) The blueberry sauce sounds excellent, I would love to serve it with wild salmon!

  • This sounds sounds (and looks) just wonderful. Blueberries are my absolute favorite – can you spare a bit of sauce? ;)

  • On fish is so interesting. Of course we’d never think of that.

  • Well, you’ve definitely increased my berry (or non-berry) knowledge. Blueberries are my very favorite and this sauce sounds amazing with the onion and ginger. It has to be so great with a cheese as you mentioned.

  • Jenni: oh I’m a chutney and whatnot girl too and, as for using the sauce as a mystery addition to a stew, I like that idea a Very Lot :)

    noble pig: ah, I would so love to have a blueberry tree…

    Reeni: thanks, what’s not to love about blueberries, eh?

    Phyllis: yeah, nobody warned me about this being a dangerous profession :) Am intrigued to know how you got on with the sauce.

    Natasha: worth a try with wild salmon – I had it with some wild hake and really liked that

    Jenn: I love how it looks myself and, sure, I think that I can spare some for ya

    Duo Dishes: ah, but you two think of lots of other tasty stuff :)

    Lori: blueberries are a real favourite with me too, surprised that I hadn’t really tried using them for savoury stuff before, but I will do so again

  • I’m absolutely freaked out by the idea that a banana is a berry; my whole world has just been upended.

    As in your home, blueberries in mind don’t last long enough to be transformed into anything but fresh mix-ins for my yogurt. However, your recipe looks so easy to whip up and would dress up a plain old piece of meat so nicely! Corn chips sound good but how about pappadum or maybe roti? Mmmmmm . . .

  • As they say “one man’s treasure is another man’s trash” or “one man’s poison is another man’s potion”. So “one foodie’s fruit is another foodie’s berry” or something like that. It’s all semantics anyway when you see those gorgeous babies sitting on the market stall. I love all berries and this blueberry sauce is stunning! But what about that banana?

  • Tangled Noodle: the banana thing made me double take too; then, after I’d posted, I noticed that Joe Pastry, who has been on a bit of a banana kick lately, had posted about the plant, saying that the fruit was a berry and then self-correcting to say that it was a false berry – so now I’m confused… I should really just let sleeping berries lie! And yes, why not, to the pappadum or roti – the Indian subcontinent must surely be allowed to get in on the blueberry action :)

    Jamie: well, exactly, who worries about semantics when you see gorgeous berries, bananas and whatnot at the market!

  • Always teaching! Thanks for the great lesson. I am sure you have many more stories in you, which I can’t wait to read.

  • Hey Shane, thanks as always for tuning in. I certainly hope that I have many more stories to come!

  • What a lovely red sauce,…yummie!!

  • I finally made the bluebery sauce but I ran out of fresh ginger so I substituted pickled sushi ginger (the pink stuff) and it was delicious. Such a gorgeous color, really fresh tasting and paired so nicely with plain Sun Chips (hubby wouldn’t let me get regular corn chips). Who would’ve thought blueberries and ginger would complement each other so well! Next time I’ll try your recommendation of serving it with white fish. I refrigerated the leftovers and was surprised to see the next day that the sauce had solidified due to the natural pectin in the blueberries, so now I have a lovely blueberry ginger jam to pair with some cheese. Thanks for the great recipe :)

  • Sophie: thanks – it is yum!

    Phyllis: So glad you liked – I’ll have to try it out with some pickled ginger myself. It’s interesting that it solidified overnight – I never had any leftovers so there was never anything left to refrigerate :)

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