The Berry Bible gives you two books in one. First, it gives you an encyclopedia of berries, describing everything from the history and habitat of the plants to uses and buying tips. Second, it gives you a cookbook with 175 different recipes for putting those berries to good use. The recipes cover a wide range of types, both sweet and savory, and the book offers lots of tips about using, storing and generally getting the most from your berries.
One thing that berry fans will definitely appreciate about this book is the variety. Not many cookbooks focus specifically on berries, and even fewer include recipes that really use all types of berries with recipes dedicated to every one. The biggest negative about the book is that there are no photos in it. Jewel-like berries can look amazing in baked goods, but you’re left to use your imagination as you comb through the pages. The recipes themselves are clearly written and easy to follow along with, but because there are no big breaks for photos or illustrations, they do run together a bit on pages where there isn’t a break for a baking tip or quotation about berries. Still, this doesn’t detract from the quality of the recipes and you’ll definitely find some excellent ones here.
The other thing to note is that some of the recipes call for specialty ingredients, like unusual game meats or products from specific stores (for instance, berry juices from Trader Joes, which may be hard to find if there isn’t a TJs in your area). Fortunately, when this happens there are always suggestions as to where to find these things and usually suggestions for substitutions as well. Overall, the recipes are accessible and even if you end up substituting raspberries for huckleberries in more than a few recipes, you’re still going to get great results. And once you start baking your way through the book, I wouldn’t be surprised if you start to look for the berries that are regional specialties not usually available in your area so that you can give them a try, too.
LindaJuly 9, 2010
I really love this book. The author lived in if not grew up in the Portland Oregon area so she had a great area to see lots of berry varieties. I moved here nearly 8 years ago and I love the plethora of berries here. Next year I hope to see my own blueberries, raspberries and strawberries in the yard but until then I am happy we also have such a great farmers’ market organization in Oregon to have all the wonderful produce and purchase these berries each year. I encourage anyone interested in berries to check this book out. You will be amazed how many varieties there are–and some good recipes too.