Michele Makes… Blackberries

In the Pacific Northwest, blackberries grow wild alongside the road.

You can stop and pick blackberries until your heart’s content.

Sadly, many people in the Northwest consider blackberry bushes “weeds” and do their best to cut, pull and exterminate the bushes in their yards.

It’s a way of thinking I don’t understand. What could be more fun than going out your backdoor and picking ripe fruit right off a bush and eating it?

When we bought our home on Whidbey Island, Wash., I was thrilled to see blackberries growing in the backyard. The first time I picked a ripe berry to eat, my husband was very concerned. “City Boy” that he is, he wasn’t sure it was “safe.”

“How do you know it isn’t a poisonous berry?” he asked.

I was born and raised in Washington state. Blackberry juice flows in my blood.

I ate the berry and explained I had grown up eating wild blackberries — I knew a blackberry when I saw it.

He watched me carefully for several hours to make sure I didn’t get sick.

My husband isn’t as enamored of the blackberry bushes as I am. They do require constant pruning and maintenance to make sure they don’t take over the entire yard.

He does, however, enjoy the blackberry jam I make. His morning ritual usually includes smearing a hearty portion of the jam on an English muffin at breakfast.

 

Blackberry Freezer Jam

Blackberry Freezer Jam is easy to make and keeps well for months in the freezer. The best part of Blackberry Freezer Jam is the fresh berry taste. Because you don’t cook the fruit, or can the jam in a water bath, the integrity of the berries is not altered by high heat.

Recipes for Blackberry Freezer Jam are included with your box of pectin you’ll need to purchase to make the jam.

I am a fan of Ball Pectin, but any pectin will do, and the recipes are all about the same.

Ingredients:

3 cups crushed berries (about 2-1/4 lb. or 6, 6-oz containers).

Tip: I use a potato masher to crush the berries.

5 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup water

6 tbsp Ball Real Fruit Classic Pectin

6 8 oz. half pint freezer containers

Directions:

Place the crushed blackberries in a large bowl and add the sugar. Make sure to mix the sugar and berries together thoroughly.

Let stand 10 minutes.

Combine the water and pectin in a small saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, continuing to stir.

Add the cooked pectin mixture to the berries and stir for 3 minutes.

Ladle the freezer jam into clean freezer containers leaving 1/2-inch headspace. I found some really neat plastic freezer jam containers that I use. Apply caps and let jam stand in refrigerator until set, but no longer than 24 hours, then freeze. Remove jam from freezer and thaw to serve.

That’s all there is to it!

You can eat the jam immediately. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks or freeze up to 1 year.

 

Blackberry Cobbler

This is a much-loved recipe handed down in my family.

Ingredients:

3 pounds fresh blackberries

1 lemon, (juice the lemon and I also add lemon zest)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup white sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold butter (cut the butter into small cubes)

1 cup half and half

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Toss berries with lemon zest and juice, cornstarch, vanilla and white sugar. Spread them out in the 9×13 pan.

In another mixing bowl, stir together flour, powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry cutter to cut in butter until it resembles a course meal.

Pour in the half and half and stir to form a thick batter.

Pour batter on top of the berries to form the cobbler crust.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.

 

Blackberry Shortcake

I love strawberry shortcake and I thought it would be fun to make blackberry shortcake, too. Bisquick is my “go-to” shortcake recipe.

Ingredients:

2 1/3 cups Bisquick

2/3 cup milk

3 tablespoons sugar

Grated peel of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons sugar

1 pint (12 oz.) fresh blackberries

1 cup sugar

½ cup water

Whipped cream for garnish

Directions:

Heat oven to 425°F.

Stir Bisquick mix, milk, 3 tablespoons sugar, lemon peel and the butter until soft dough forms.

On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by spoonfuls to make six shortcakes. Sprinkle sugar over tops using 2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

In 1-quart saucepan, combine sugar and water. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, stir in blackberries.

Split warm shortcakes; fill with blackberries and syrup. Cover with top halves of shortcakes; dollop with whipped cream and additional blackberries. If I feel “super fancy” I will sprinkle confectioners sugar on the top, as well.

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