By Sherrie Norris
Another of summer’s greatest gifts growing in abundance this year around the High Country is the blackberry. Providing a great source of vitamin C and fiber, blackberries can be enjoyed in many different ways— by the handful just off the prickly bushes, in fresh fruit salads and smoothies and cooked in cobblers, jams, muffins and pies.
It’s best to look for firm, plump and fully colored berries. And it’s advisable to store them in a single layer at room temperature or in the refrigerator —but don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them.
Blackberries have been used medicinally for hundreds of years, with old-timers using its juice to treat infections of the mouth and eyes, as well as for digestion problems.
A tough mountain woman who lived to be 104 once told me to sip a little blackberry wine for any problem related to the stomach. I won’t deny finding truth in her well-prescribed remedy. She also told me that she once simply peeled and boiled the roots and stems and drank the liquid for various digestive related problems. There is strong belief by many that blackberries contain cancer-fighting agents.
So, whether for medicinal purposes or just because you like the taste of blackberries, now is the time to eat up. Like our other summer fruit, they won’t be around very long.
Easy Blackberry Cake
4 Tbs. butter
¾ cup flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ cup evaporated milk
2 cups fresh blackberries
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
Preheat oven to 325°. Melt butter in an 8-inch square baking dish in preheated oven. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and milk in a small bowl and beat until smooth. Pour batter over the melted butter; top with the blackberries, then sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the fruit.
Blackberry Nut Bars
½ cup butter
1½ cup flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 ½ cups sugar
4 cups blackberries
¾ cup flour
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
¾ cup flour
1/3 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
Melt butter in 9 x 13-inch pan at 350 degrees. Add flour and sugar and press into bottom of pan. Mix filling ingredients and pour over crust. Mix topping ingredients and sprinkle over filling. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Cool and cut into squares.
8 cups fresh blackberries, washed and drained
1¼ cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1/3 cup butter
Pastry for double-crust pie
Preheat oven to 475°F. Lightly butter an 8-inch square Pyrex baking dish.
Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Gently stir in blackberries and orange juice. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter until it is melted. Set aside and keep warm.
Roll out half the pastry as for a pie, but cut it into an 8-inch square. Stir blackberry mixture to evenly distribute the fruit, and spoon half the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Cover with pastry square.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just starting to brown. Remove from oven and spoon remaining blackberry mixture over baked pastry.
Roll out remaining pastry, and cut into strips about an inch wide. Arrange strips in a loose lattice weave over the blackberry mixture. Sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar, if desired. Bake an additional 20 minutes or until browned. Makes 8 servings.