When we moved in this house over ten years ago, the owners told me about the blackberries at the front of the property. They said that the little old ladies that had this property years ago had a patch but it had been left to itself and had grown into quite a jungle.
The first year we were here, I barely got myself into the patch. I had to cut weeds and overgrown shrubs and use a stick to pull out the canes. Each winter for about three years, I got closer to the patch and finally, was able to cut down the old years canes and clean out from under the canes. As you know, I hate snakes and do not want to find myself deep in blackberry canes with a snake. I keep them cleaned out from under so I can see everything going and coming from the patch. I usually have a cardinal that builds in the canes and it upsets them to no end when I get close to the nest while picking. It's interesting when the blackberries are blooming to see which insects come to pollinate. Sometimes, the blooms are full of butterflies, sometimes bees. It really depends on the year.
These berries have thorns so I wear a pair of my grandpas old bibbed overalls and my muck boots. In this hillbilly outfit, I can lean onto the canes to reach all the berries. This year, I am picking about a colander full every other day and they are as big as my thumbs. I generally get ten to twelve quart bags to put into the freezer for pancake nights during the winter plus all the berries we can eat while they are ripening.
Since I am frugal, I relish these free berries each year. Every bag I put away saves me money during the winter when fruit is so expensive. I feel like I am saving money and doing something healthy for my family at the same time.
Here's the recipe I promised for a great blackberry cobbler. My daughter made it a couple of days ago and it didn't last long. It came from my grandma's recipe box.
5 cups fresh blackberries - I put a few extra cups in because I had a bunch and I like a lot of berries
3/4 cup sugar - gauge your sugar to the fruit, I used less because my berries were really sweet
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 t salt
2 tablespoons butter/margarine
Pastry ( recipe follows)
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon sugar
Vanilla ice cream
Wash berries thoroughly and drain well; place in bottom of a 9 inch square baking dish. Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt; sprinkle over berries. Dot with butter. Roll out pastry into a 9 inch square and place over berries, sealing edges to sides of dish. Cut slits in crust. Brush crust with milk and sprinkle with the tablespoon of sugar. Bake at 425 F for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Serve with ice cream.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1/3 cup butter or shortening
2 tablespoons water
Combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; sprinkle with water and stir with a fork until mixture forms a ball. Roll out on a lightly floured surface. Yield: enough for one 9 inch cobbler.
I doubled the recipe so we would have a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. This gives you a runny, juicy cobbler. If you want it thicker, add a tablespoon of tapioca to the berries and let stand about 10 minutes before you place them in the pan.
Everytime I eat this cobbler, I think of all the times my grandma would con me into picking blackberries. If I'd pick a bucketful, she'd make a cobbler. She made quite a few cobblers over the years!