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...