If you are either from here in Oregon or know anyone that is you probably know we have had a very hot and humid summer. Us native Oregonians just aren't cut out for this weather so we have been whining a lot about it. On the other hand the local blackberries are enjoying and thriving because of it. They seem to love this hot humid sticky weather and are rewarding those of us that take the time to pick them with some of the best berries I have seen in a few years. And lots of them too.
This last week or so I have spent a bit of time out picking berries. I really haven't had to work all that hard at it and was able to come away with around 8 cups of berries each time. Mind you I am not the best berry picker either, that title would have to go to my daughter she and my mom used to both spend hours every summer out picking berries. Both of them were much faster at the picking and ended up picking way more than I ever did. This year however if I want berries to use here in my kitchen I am on my own to do the picking so I get what I can and there are plenty to get.
If you happen to have some berries on your property be sure to go out and pick at least some of them it will be well worth it. If you don't ask around and find someone that will let you come and pick some.
However a couple of things you should never do. Don't go onto someone's property without permission and pick berries. Even if the berries are right next to the road. First off they are not yours and secondly you have no way of knowing if they have been sprayed. Every year I see people pulled over to the side of the roads out here picking berries that they see growing there. Many of these areas have been sprayed for both weeds and bugs and they are risking their health by eating them without knowing.
Next thing to remember is if someone lets you pick berries on their property and you have to go through gates be extra careful to make sure any gates that were closed when you got there remain so and any that were open also remain so. They are there for a reason.
A few things to keep in mind when picking berries. Dress appropriately this is not the time for shorts and a cute sleeveless top or for those cute little sandals you got on sale. You need to wear long pants, long sleeves and real shoes. Okay I admit I break the long sleeve rule most of the time. Remember those berry plants are going to fight back and they have thorns to do that with.
So now you have gone out and picked berries now what do you do with them?? There are so many things that come to mind but today I am going to tell you all about my favorite Blackberry Pie. That's right I said pie!!!
Remember I said I got about 8 cups of berries each time I picked? Well that amount is perfect for 2 pies. What I like to do is make one pie to eat right away and freeze a batch of berry pie filling for another one next winter. It is super easy to do and you will be so happy when you have that pie filling next winter.
Here is my favorite blackberry pie recipe complete with some pictures to help you along the way. After the recipe I'll tell how I go about freezing more pie filling to use later.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
Sort and rinse 4 cups of fresh blackberries and set aside to drain.
Line pie pan with bottom crust
In a large bowl combine:
¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar
1/3 cup flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
stir well then add the berries.
Gently combine until the berries are coated with the sugar mixture. They usually start to release some berry juices during this process.
Dump the berry/ sugar mixture into the pastry lined pie pan.
Cut about 2 Tablespoons of butter into small chunks and add to the top of the filling
Dip your finger into cool water and run it around the edge of the pastry in the pie pan. (this is your glue to hold the top crust to the bottom crust)
Carefully top with the second rolled out crust. Use a fork to press the edges together.
Cut the edge of the crust off even with the outside edge of the pie pan.
Cut some slits in the top crust (these allow the juices to bubble up and the air to escape during baking)
Sprinkle top of crust with a pinch of sugar- optional
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The pie is done when the crust is nicely browned and there are berry juices bubbling through the slits in the crust.
Cool on a wire rack
Berry pie filling for later.
Measure out 8 cups of berries and rinse them off just like when you made the pie.
Now combine you dry ingredients in a gallon size freezer bag. Add the drained, rinsed berries. Label the bag and seal it (making sure you have gotten as much air out as possible without crushing your berries. Now freeze this bag of berry pie filling. When you are ready to use it simply thaw it out (be sure to place the bag in a container just in case some of the juices decide to escape)
You can do many things with this bag of filling once it is thawed out. You can of course make a pie following the directions for baking that we used today for our pie. Or you could put it into a casserole dish and cover it with a “crisp topping” (butter, flour and oatmeal) and bake that, you could heat it up and put it into a casserole with some biscuits on top and bake it into a cobbler, or just bring it to a boil (to cook the flour and thicken it a bit) and then cool and put over ice cream.