Monday, 25 July 2011

Wild Berry Season is Almost Here

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

Strawberries and raspberries in the garden are trickling in and finding their way into the freezer, but we are a ways off from picking wild blackberries.

The most plentiful blackberry around here is the Himalayan blackberry Rubus armeniacus, a terrible invasive plant that will take over if you turn your back. There seems to be no way to completely eradicate this noxious weed, so we fight it for most of the year and resign ourselves to picking the berries when they ripen in August. A true love hate relationship. It's hard to resist stocking the freezer with these plentiful berries.

Irma Harding, my home economic advisor reminds me that I need to rotate my freezer stores if berry season is imminent, so with that in mind, blackberry pie has been on the menu lately.

These berries are juicy, so to avoid the filling boiling over the pie pan in the oven, I thaw the berries thoroughly and let them drain. Depending on the deepness of my pie dish, I may only use half of the reserved juice.

I like to use tapioca starch in my pie fillings, mixing it thoroughly with the sugar for the pie before adding to the berries. For this pie baked in a 9 x 13 pan I used 1/3 cup of tapioca starch, for a medium thick filling. Not firm, just juicy enough to go well with ice cream.

Add the sugar and thickener to the drained berries.

Stir gently to mix and let the mixture macerate to draw more juice from the berries. I do this step before I make the crust. By the time I get the crust ready, the berries have released more juice and I can decide if I need to add any of the reserved juice. If you have fresh berries, letting them macerate overnight or at least a few hours with half the sugar will release the juice. I like to drink sweetened blackberry juice much more than the task of cleaning bubbled over and burned pie filling.

Baking on a catch pan helps keep the cleanup to a minimum. The taste of the pie more than makes up for a little scrubbing. Delicious! Time to fill the freezer again...


Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

Well done on your freezer rotation :) I remember my grandmother having ten year old blackberries in her hers ;) We still have about six weeks here until the blackberries and elderberries are ripe but am really looking forward!

Anne said...

Yep.. we've been chucking tons of wild black raspberries in the freezer. The season here is almost done in zone 5 for (Rubus occidentalis) black caps and mulberry. Blueberries are in season though ( a tad late.. but tasty this year!) Wild plums & grapes seem to be a little slow this year too.. but so far the crop is looking good.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Tanya, I figure we have about 6 weeks to go too before those blossoms turn into berries, and then it's a scramble to beat the fall rains!

Oh gosh, I have found things in my freezer too that have "aged" too ;)

Anne, I wish we had more blackcaps, they are my favorite, but a little too scant for much but eating right off the bush. Our blueberries are as green as gourds yet, can't wait to taste them!

elaine rickett said...

In England the blackberry season has started a month early. I picked some on Saturday in the local supermarket car park.

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Great tutorial. I learn so much each time I visit your blog

Anne said...

Keep an eye out for a sport more to your liking! Usually I'd agree with ya on some offering more seed than sweet.. but.. I got lucky and found a wild sport that produces some really good plump berries (still not commercial raspberry size.. but 3/4th the size.. which is close for a wild one!)

Bend the tip over into a pot of soil and bury it. It will root from the tip in a couple of weeks. Then you can move your favorite wild berry clones closer to home. Yeah... I am that lazy that I'd move the canes to avoid the repeated hike. lol :)