This is the time of year when I feel very rich, botanically speaking. In a word: Blackberries. We have two kinds of blackberries growing on our property, the Himalayan Blackberry, a giant of a plant that has large, nasty thorns and can put out canes up to 20 feet long, and our native blackberry, which has smaller canes, thorns, growing habit and fruit. I must rather smugly add here that we actually have eight kinds of edible berries on our 2.5 acres and we only planted one of them, our blueberries. All the rest are either indigenous to our area, black and red huckleberries, salal, thimbleberry, and salmonberry, or are the blackberries that have naturalized here. Because the Himalayan blackberry is considered a noxious weed in California, we have to be vigilant in containing its growth to a prescribed area.
These crisp, leading-up-to-autumn mornings will find Clay out in the yard picking a bowl of blackberries. They're fat, juicy and tartly sweet, a perfect topping to our steel-cut oats breakfast. Now is also the time to pick whatever is ripe everyday to save this luscious goodness for winter. Our berries are completely pesticide and any other -cide free, as is all of our property, so the only thing they sometimes have on them is a bit of dust.
Since I freeze the berries for the winter, I don't want to add water to them by washing them, so after picking several quarts, I place them on a large baking sheet and "dust" them by using the cool setting of a hair dryer. This blows off the dust and other bits of garden schmutz that may be clinging to them.
To make the berries ready for bagging and freezing, I carefully spread them out over the baking sheet so they're in a single layer and place them in the freezer for about 1/2 hour or so, until each berry is semi-frozen and won't stick to its neighbors. Then they go into large zip-top freezer bags and back into the freezer, waiting for the perfect moment in the darkest days of winter to brighten an evening meal where I might make a clafoutis or a cobbler for dessert, or top a quickly sauteed chicken or duck breast with blackberry pan sauce. Yum!
This is my berry picking companion, Huckleberry. She's 15 years old, loves blackberries and has learned to pick them off without getting stuck by thorns. Jack loves berries too but, being vertically challenged, is limited to the ones growing close to the ground.
This is my submission to Weekend Herb Blogging, a weekly event begun by the ever busy and industrious Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. Each week, food bloggers can join in by posting about an herb, plant, garden vegetable, fruit, etc. One of my very favorite food bloggers, Kalyn will 'round-up' the weekly submissions on Sunday evening. Be sure to take a peek at what food bloggers from around the world are saying about their favorite herb or plant. If you'd like to join in, click here to see how.