BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Berry Curious

20 Comments

It just might be the greatest berry you’ve never heard of. Limited to very small regions of Europe and North America, the Jostaberry is a specialty fruit that you won’t find in supermarkets any time soon. Delicate to a fault, they’re difficult enough to pick by hand without crushing or bruising. Unsurprisingly, no machines have been invented to make them a commercially viable option. Moreover, their prime harvesting season passes in the blink of an eye, encompassing two weeks each July at the most. Perhaps this very elusive nature adds to their allure, but I’d wager that they’d fly off the shelves should they ever become as common as apples and oranges. Luck was simply on my side when I discovered that Lyman Orchards, supposedly the one and only source on the east coast, had them ripe for the picking.

In a class of their own, the Jostaberry is a cross between a black currant and a gooseberry, explaining some of their tart, slightly astringent qualities. Pronounced with a “Y” as a reflection of their German heritage, “Jostaberry” is a portmanteau that comes from a blend of Johannisbeere and Stachelbeere- The German words for both aforementioned varieties. When fully ripe, their sweetness develops further, blending in notes of blueberries, kiwis, and grapes, all into one tiny, juicy bite. Easily eaten out of hand, the real challenge is picking- and saving- enough to weave into recipes later. Their high pectin content makes them ideal for jams and jellies, but by the time I got back home from the fields, not even half the volume of berries I had intended for baking remained.

Jam was out of the question for this season, but my precious Jostaberries became the stars of the show inside classic crumb muffins instead. Moist and bursting with that unique berry flavor, it’s no secret that the muffins themselves are merely vehicles for consuming large clumps of the dark drupes at once. Moist, soft and lightly buttery, the surrounding batter provides a gently sweetened backdrop that allows the berries to take center stage. The only thing that might improve the combination is perhaps a quick jaunt through the toaster oven, followed by a thick smear of that jam I had dreamed about… But that pairing will just have to wait for the next limited harvest.

Jostaberry Crumb Muffins

Crumb Topping:

1/3 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
1/3 Cup White Whole Wheat Flour Flour
1/3 Cup Almond Meal
1/4 Cup Melted Coconut Oil

Jostaberry Muffins:

1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Medium, Ripe Banana
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Water
1/4 Cup Melted Coconut Oil
1 Cup Plain Non-Dairy Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Cups White Whole Wheat Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Heaping Cup Jostaberries

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and either lightly grease or line 12 standard muffin cups with papers.

Prepare the topping first by stirring together the brown sugar, flour, and almond meal in a small bowl. Drizzle in the melted coconut oil while mixing with a fork, until all of the crumbs are moistened and sticking together in coarse clumps. Set aside.

For the body of the muffins, pull out your blender or food processor, and toss in the sugar, banana, lemon juice, and water. Thoroughly puree, until completely smooth, before adding in the melted coconut oil, non-dairy milk, and vanilla extract. Blend once more to fully incorporate.

Sift the flour into a large bowl along with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in the jostaberries and toss to coat with the dry goods, which will help prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins while baking. Pour the liquids from your blender into the bowl, and stir lightly with a wide spatula, just to combine. Don’t go crazy about getting out every last lump; a bit of unevenness is just fine.

Equally distribute your batter between your 12 prepared muffin cups, mounding them up slightly towards the center, and then do the same for the crumb topping. It may seem like a whole lot of crumb, but don’t be shy and pile it on! Bake for 5 minutes, and then without opening the oven, reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for an additional 13 – 16 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool completely before enjoying.

Makes 12 Muffins

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

20 thoughts on “Berry Curious

  1. Oooh, thanks for this bit of information – I’ve never heard of/seen jostaberries before. Crumb muffins sound like the perfect template for these!

  2. Are yours edible then? The jostaberries that I grew were hideous! They tasted disgusting and had a sort of faint tang of raw meat to them so we ended up calling them meatberries. I tried to dig them up and haul them off to the green waste but they keep coming back in our home in town so the girls just hack them back so that the metre reading man can get through to the meter box and the blackbirds enjoy them.

  3. I guess I’ll have to try the recipie with some other berry: “just-a-berry.” :-)

    janet

  4. Jostaberries are new but these muffins should become a classic :)
    Delicious recipe!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    P.S. To prepare for my exams now I won’t be commenting for around 4 weeks – See you in a month my friend :)

  5. JOSTABERRIES ????!!!!! Where on earth does it grow? Now, I HAVE TO go and hunt for some of those. HANNAH, why are you doing this to me ?????

  6. This is so fascinating! They’re beautiful!

  7. We have jostaberries in our garden but I have never before seen a recipe for them! I made a deliciouoc liquor with them one year, but most we just eat raw.

  8. What a delicious sounding berry! Love these muffins – such a great easy base.

  9. Jostaberries sounds really cool! I wish you could find them at the grocery store!

  10. I’m always amazed by how many berries there are out there that I’ve never heard of. These sound super!

  11. I have never seeing or heard of jostaberries…this muffins look great Hannah.
    Thanks for introducing me to a new berry :)

  12. Whoa I have never heard of these before. Muffins are the perfect vehicle for most fruits & vegetables! I love a good crumb topping too.

  13. I love finding and using little known fruit.

  14. These berries are definitely the gems of the forest. Don’t think I will ever get to try them at all.

  15. These look great Hannah! We don’t have jostaberries in our garden, but we do have blueberries and I’m guessing those will work fine too :-)

  16. Thank you, Hannah, for this very lovely read! I learned a lot & your tasty treats look Amazing! ☺

  17. I have never tried Jostaberry before, maybe I’ve seen them in Europe before. Awesome that they’ve high pectin content, that’s great for jams and jellies! Btw beautiful shot of the Jostaberry Crumb Muffins! :)

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