Salmonberries are as varied in color as they are in taste. Sometimes they are sweet, sometimes they are sour, sometimes they are insipid and sometimes they are an indescribable mix of flavors. Because this is my first harvest of the season, I thought it best to keep them the centerpiece. They are the first spring berry to ripen in the Pacific Northwest, and their presence is a reminder of the long, warm days to come.
Keep this plate small. Salmonberries aren’t known for their abundance. You might be able to put this plate together from only one bush, if you’re lucky, and if the bush is large. The simple syrup recipe makes way more than you need, but you can store it in your fridge for a long, long time.
- 6-10 salmonberries, fresh
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 5-6 mint leaves, fresh, torn
- 1-2 fennel tops, torn
- 4 rose petals, fresh, torn
- 4 rose petals, fresh, chiffonaded into thin threads
Soak the rose petals in cold water.
Mix the white wine and sugar together in a pot. Turn the heat on medium-high and stir. Meanwhile, tear the spring herbs and put into a small bowl or cup. When the wine comes to a boil, stir until it’s combined with the sugar. Remove from heat and pour over the herbs. Cool in the fridge for an hour.
Chiffonade four of the rose petals into thin threads. Arrange into three small piles. Rub some of the strands with your fingers to curl them.
Put three salmonberries onto the plate atop the roses, one per pile. Carefully slit a few salmonberries open. Lay flat on the cutting board and cut into strips. Make a small pile in the center with them. Slit two more the same way, preferably different colors, and lay over the pile of salmonberry strips. Finally, slit one more, and, one by one, remove each seed with your fingers, arranging them around the plate. You won’t use the whole berry, so pop the rest in your mouth.
Once the hour is up, strain out the herbs. Brush the berries with the syrup. Drizzle a bit on the roses. Return to the fridge to cool. Serve chilled.
For a closer look at the salmonberry, see my post: Salmonberries & Pacific Northwest Cuisine