First Fruits is a term well connected to Lammas. I tended to take it literally years ago and wondered how it fit into a place where the strawberries and raspberries were finished months ago. Weren’t they fruit? Maybe my issue was with the word itself. Early apples and cherries and apricots with their seed on the inside, are fruit, not berries. They ripen closer to the end of July. Maybe that was it?
Now I think of it in broader terms. I think of it as the fruits of ones labour. Plans that were planted in the spring and are now growing to fruition. Well tended gardens that are offering up their bounty, both literally and figuratively at Lughnasadh.
I know many people tend to use these terms interchangeably, Lammas and Lughnasadh. If you dig a little deeper you will find differences and I would encourage you to do that. For now, let me stay with one theme that is common to both, the gathering of the first fruits of the harvest. What should be a wonderfully happy time also holds underlying stress. The bounty may be in the fields, orchards and gardens but it has yet to be collected and properly stored or preserved. Farmers know all too well that rains or winds or bugs can dash high hopes at the last moment and the devastating effects of loosing a harvest.
That tension is also present in the shifting from light towards darkness as the sun moves towards the equator and away from us.
Lúnasa is the modern Gaelic name for the month of August and Lunasda is Scottish Gaelic for August 1st. It is thought of as the first day of fall within this cycle. Knowing the land and the climate where you live will help you in knowing if that is a date that reflects an appropriate time to celebrate. If it sounds a little sacrilegious to you to move dates around, consider that the Celts might well have celebrated on the night of the full moon closest to fire festival dates and that these festivals are about our relationship with the land rather than the Gregorian calendar.
Lammas is a time to start getting busy in the kitchen, putting up and away those first fruits. A batch of relish from the zucchini’s that are growing like tribbles or applesauce from a friend’s tree for potato pancakes in December or frozen blueberries for breakfast smoothies. Preserving the harvest will help get you and yours through winter to a time of new growth.
But before we start….we feast! And this is a tasty, healthy contribution to any feast table.
You will need:
4 cups of ripe local fruit, in this case a mixture of cherries, peaches, apricots, blue and blackberries
1 Tbsp. raspberry shrub
1 Tbsp. lavender honey
( If neither of these are available check the recipe below for substitions )
2/3 cup ricotta
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. lavender honey
1 Tbsp. milk ( optional )
Gather the ingredients together while focusing on thankfulness for the bounty of the harvest and your easy access to that bounty. Collect the equipment for easy working and prepare to begin by washing hands, putting on an apron and shifting focus. I know I write this often but if you are looking to create in a sacred space, practice has value.
A few weeks ago I was in conversation with a woman who shared with me a story of a feast that was being prepared for a native festival. In the kitchen, one woman was having a bad day and that energy was being stirred while she worked. At one point the dish she was cooking was removed from the room and a new batch begun because it was unacceptable to serve what she has been preparing to the guests at the event.
I know that for the most part no one is looking over your shoulder but you will always know what energy, attention and intention has been brought to a project. As they say in FIndhorn, “Work is love in action“.
In a small bowl or the bowl of a blender, mix the ricotta, lemon zest and honey. Stir well and if you are feeling the mixture is too thick add 1 Tbsp. milk. Let age for at least an hour so the flavours can blend.
If you are not familiar with ricotta, it is a cheese made from the left over whey of previous cheesemaking and can be low in fat, depending on the type of milk used and the cheese made. It will take both sweet and savoury additions well. Chives and salt combine with ricotta just as well as honey and lemon zest.
Wash, dry and cut the fruit into bite size pieces as needed. Place in a bowl and toss with raspberry shrub and lavender honey. Let sit for several hours so that the juices can be drawn out and mingle.
The two ingredients above are ones that I have made and shared over the last months. I am not going to assume you also made them and that they are handy in your kitchen. A close approximation might be 2 tsp. raspberry vinegar or another vinegar of your choice and 4 tsp. of a good local honey with a couple tablespoons fresh tarragon, finely chopped.
To serve spoon fresh fruit into a small bowl making sure to add a little of the juices in the bottom of the serving bowl and garnish with a spoonful of the ricotta lemon dip.
First Fruits Salad with Ricotta Lemon Dip from My Kitchen Wand