August 28, 2015
Savoury berry tastings!
Summer brings joy to the hearts of Québecers one and all. With an abundance of sunshine and decidedly longer days, the summer months are prime time for sampling a wide range of local and regional produce from Québec's bountiful terroir. Berry season begins in late June and extends through to early autumn.
Bright red strawberries are the first to make their appearance, followed in succession by delicately sweet raspberries, succulently plump blueberries and a host of other fruit found at produce stands across the province. Berries are also a favourite with local chefs who delight in incorporating them into dishes both savoury and sweet.
Produce on offer varies considerably from one region to the next, with some items available only in areas outside the larger urban centres. What better excuse to get out into the countryside and discover the province's bevy of pleasures for the palate.
Following are several suggestions for berry lovers:
Normally the first and ready for picking in early summer, strawberries abound in regions across Québec. Strawberry farms can indeed be found in particular abundance in the Montérégie and Laurentian regions bordering the Greater Montréal area. In central Québec, the area around the provincial capital and the Magdalen Islands, wild strawberries are plentiful. Freshly picked or transformed into jam, jelly or liqueur, strawberries are a treat enjoyed by everyone.
If you are travelling to the Saguenay/Lac-Saint-Jean region, you must sample this famed regional favourite. Known generally as bilberries in regions outside North America, this small, round, deep blue fruit is delicious served fresh, made into jam or coated in chocolate. Sheer delight! Popular legend would have it that blueberries grown in the Saguenay region are so big that you need only one to make a pie! It will therefore comes a no surprise that the region is affectionately dubbed the Kingdom of the Blueberry! Do be certain to sample this famed berry on your next stopover at Saguenay.
Chicoutai or cloudberry
Cloudberries, native to Québec's North Shore, are small amber-coloured berries. Also known as bakeapple berries in Newfoundland and Labrador, and knot or knoutberries in the UK, these flavourful little berries are especially good in jams and fruit spreads. These perennial berry plants are found only in the northern reaches of the world between 55o and 78o latitude. Try a dollop of cloudberry jam on a scoop of your favourite ice cream for a decidedly different twist. Yumm! Cloudberries can also be enjoyed as an herbal tea or after dinner liqueur, you will be delighted to taste these produces in Havre-Saint-Pierre or Sept-Iles or Baie-Comeau.
Québec is renowned for cranberry production in the central region of the province not far from Trois-Rivières. The autumn harvest is both fascinating and impressive to observe. Before the fruit can be gathered, the fields must first be flooded. Hence it is not uncommon come autumn to see fields which look more like large, red-coloured ponds. Cranberries are delicious dried, juiced or made into compote.
Be certain to take time out to discover these and other local berries as you journey through Québec. Enjoy!