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Exploring Womanhood > Heart of the Home > Cooking > Fruits & Vegetables

Blackberry Season
by Jennifer A. Wickes

Science
Rubus Villosus

Varieties
There are thousands of varieties located throughout the United States and Europe (Northern Hemisphere). They are the largest of the wild berries. They grow on thorny bushes known as brambles.

Season
May to August

How to Select
Look for plump, dark colored berries that have no hulls. An indication that the berries were picked too early are hulls that are still present. These berries will be tart.

Storage
Store unwashed blackberries in a single layer in an airtight container for 1 - 2 days.

Trivia
In ancient times, blackberries were symbols of healing, protection and money. Blackberry leaves, when moistened, used to be used as a cure for scalds.

Wine Pairings
French Colombard, Grenache Rose, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauternes, Vouvray, Moscato D-Asti, Auslesen

Spices
Allspice, anise, basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mace, nutmeg, tarragon

Equivalencies
1 pint fresh = 2 cups
10 oz. frozen = 2 cups

Preparation
Wash in cool water before serving or preparing. When baking in cakes or muffins, an acidic environment is required so that the berries do not lose their color. Always use buttermilk or add some lemon juice to the recipe.

Nutrition
Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, folate, magnesium and iron.

Quote
"O, blackberry tart, with berries as big as your thumb, purple and black, and thick with juice, and a crust to endear them that will go to cream in your mouth, and both passing down with such a taste that will make you close your eyes and wish you might live forever in the wideness of that rich moment." Richard Llewellyn, Welsh novelist (1907-1983)

More Information
Oregon's Raspberries & Blackberries

Recipes Blackberry Custard Pie
By Jennifer A. Wickes
copyright 2004

1 pie crust (9 inch)
1/2 cup blackberry jam
4 cups whole milk
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 pint blackberries

Bake the pie crust as per instructions. Allow the pie crust to cool completely.
Spread the blackberry jam onto the bottom of the pie crust.
Heat the milk until scalded.
Beat the egg yolks together until light and smooth. Add the honey and salt. Mix well.

Gently temper the eggs with the milk (add the scalded milk slowly, in a steady stream, while stirring constantly). Care must be taken that the eggs do not curdle (scramble from the heat of the milk).

Once the eggs and milk have been mixed together, return the mixture to a double boiler and continue to cook until the custard has thickened, stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat, and place bowl in a bowl with iced water to help speed the cooling process. Add the vanilla extract and bourbon. Thoroughly mix.

Once the custard has cooled completely, pour into the prepared pie crust. Place blackberries on top. Garnish with a mint leaf.

Yields: 10 servings

Berry Empanadas

1 16.5-ounce can blackberries -- drained
1 cup finely chopped pared apple (about 1 medium, tart variety such as Granny Smith)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash salt
3 single pastry crusts for 9-inch pie -- ready-to-use, mix or homemade
1 tablespoon butter
Cinnamon-sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine apple, walnuts, sugar, flour, cinnamon, vanilla and salt in medium bowl and mix well. Gently fold in berries.

Roll out pastry and cut into twelve 4 1/2-inch rounds. Place 2 tablespoons berry filling on half of round, leaving about 1/2 inch along edges. Fold the other half of pastry over filled half, moisten edges and seal by pressing with fork. Repeat this procedure until all rounds are folded and sealed.

Combine 2 tablespoons sugar with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Brush each empañadas with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Bake on greased cookie sheet 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Yields: 12 servings

Raspberry/Blackberry Trifle
Recipe By: Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission

RASPBERRY LAYER
1 1/2 cups frozen whole raspberries
3 tablespoons sugar -- or to taste
1-tablespoon raspberry or other berry liqueur (1 to 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen whole raspberries

BLACKBERRY LAYER
1 1/2 cups frozen whole blackberries
3 tablespoons sugar -- or to taste
1-tablespoon raspberry or other berry liqueur (1 to 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen whole blackberries

LIGHT CUSTARD
4 1/2 cups skim milk
5 eggs
1-cup sugar
1/3-cup cornstarch
4 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
OR
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 medium angel food cake (about 17 ounces)
2 tablespoons raspberry or other berry liqueur

Berry Layers: Thaw 1 1/2 cups of raspberries and process in blender or food processor to make a purée. (NOTE: Measure all berries in fresh or frozen state.) Strain through a fine sieve to remove seeds.

Stir in sugar and berry liqueur. Refrigerate for later use. May be made several days ahead. Follow same procedure for blackberry purée. (HINT: Pint squirt bottles are helpful tools in storing purée as well as in assembly of finished Trifle.)

Light Custard: Using double boiler, heat 4 cups milk until steam rises from the surface.

In a separate bowl, combine eggs, remaining 1/2-cup milk and 1-cup sugar. Sift in cornstarch, and whisk until well blended.

Remove scalded milk from heat, and gradually whisk in egg mixture. Return pan to top of double boiler and whisk constantly over medium heat until very thick and smooth, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla or almond extract. Transfer to bowl, press plastic wrap onto surface, and allow to cool slightly.

Assembly: Cut cake in 1" to 2" cubes. (This can be done ahead, placing cubes in sealed plastic bag.) Arrange 1/2 the cake squares on the bottom of the trifle bowl, including any irregular shapes.

Sprinkle with 1-tablespoon berry liqueur and evenly distribute raspberry purée mixture over cake layer. Arrange berries evenly in a layer, especially around sides. Spoon 1/2 the custard over berries.

Repeat with remaining cake, liqueur, blackberry purée, blackberries, any additional fruit and custard. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or one day ahead. Garnish with additional berries and fruit in the center just before serving.

3/4 cup serving

NOTES: Contrary to its humble and unassuming name, "English Trifle," this very traditional English sweet pudding is anything but a mere trifle. This lusciously layered mélange of sherry-soaked sponge cake and crème anglaise adorned with jam, fresh fruit and whipped cream, is indeed conventional in its liberal use of fat-laden ingredients. But hold on to your waistline, this lightened version featuring fresh or frozen raspberries and blackberries and a lightened custard weighs in at just 2 grams of fat per 3/4 cup serving, with a taste and presentation that would compel even Shakespeare to partake. (Shakespeare was well aware of these delicious fruits, as it is from Shakespeare's King Henry IV that the popular English saying "plentiful as blackberries" is derived.)

Use 3 quart straight-sided Trifle Bowl.

Blackberry Wine

To 2 quarts of blackberry juice put 1 1/4 pounds of white sugar, 1/2 an ounce of cinnamon, 1/2 an ounce of nutmeg, 1/2 an ounce of cloves, 1 ounce of allspice; let it boil a few minutes, and when cool add 1 pint of brandy.

Jennifer A. Wickes is a freelance food writer, researcher and cookbook reviewer. She has written several eBooks, and has had numerous articles and recipes in printed publications, as well as on-line. She is working on her first cookbook. For more information about Jennifer or her work, please visit her home page: http://home.comcast.net/~culinaryjen/Home.html

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