Lengthening days inspire meals that are just as light — particularly for the last course.

Lengthening days inspire meals that are just as light — particularly for the last course.

Desserts showcasing the season's ripe, juicy fruits don't require much in the way of preparation to deliver big flavors. And recipes based on unripe or frozen fruits often need to dial down the sugar for summer.

"When they're fresh, local, they're sweet, and you don't need to add as much flavoring," says Rebecca Hill, owner of Sweet Stuff in downtown Medford.

Although a light hand with fruits is best, there are a few ways to give fruit-based desserts professional polish. Hill plans a Saturday class at Sweet Stuff to show bakers a few tricks of the trade.

"With the fresh fruit, you need to seal it," says Hill of glazing tarts and other desserts with fresh-fruit toppings. "A lot of people think you put the fruit on top, and that's it. You want to cover the entire surface."

Tarts are a major focus of the class, along with trifles, Napoleons and other ways to use puff pastry. Participants will take miniature desserts home from the two-hour class. The concept builds on a wintertime fruits class that featured pears, apples and cranberries, says Hill.

Most cooks know that farms and farmers markets supply the freshest local fruits. But many don't look for ingredients in their own backyard, says Hill.

"This area is just overrun by blackberry bushes everywhere," she says. "A lot of people don't really take advantage of them."

Blackberries are a late-summer commodity in addition to the Rogue Valley's beloved peaches. Labor Day is the time to pick huckleberries in the Cascade foothills. Until then, there are strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Hill advocates mixing berry varieties in desserts.

"The combination of strawberry and raspberry together is really good."

Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email slemon@mailtribune.com.