Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What To Do With 4 Bushels of Blackberries

Blackberries in the bucket - ripe. The red ones on the vine - not ripe yet.

It all started with an Instagram picture of my friend, Sharon Rupert Dunaway, picking berries in Houston in July somewhere near Houston, Texas.  With camp out for the great Lucille,  I started making a Summer Bucket List and decided this must be on it.  I found a great downloadable one to use thanks to The Day Designer, Whitney English, that you can get here for free.  Her organizational tips, list and planners have been beyond helpful, but that's another post entirely.
With the idea of sunshine, hats on our heads and buckets in our arms, I started researching which farms had what and what hours they were open, etc. and landed on P-6 Farms, in Montgomery, near Conroe, Texas.  Let me save you the time and trouble for the novices, like myself, to know that July in Texas means the only berries still available to pick are blackberries. When the lady at the front counter says, "Stay at the front of the rows," just politely ignore her since it is almost the end of the season and all the blackberries at the front have been picked already.  Go to the farthest row and head to the back.
My 84 year old mother picking blackberries
Pro Tip: Pay attention to the prices before you start picking. Because . . . we picked 4 buckets and when they rang me up, imagine my surprise at $65.00.  I was more than happy to give that to the farm, well deserved, but what I don't like to do is waste food. An opportunity presented itself to figure out what to do with these. My mom and I got home and she diligently cleaned them all, while I made dinner and dessert, which was a cobbler from our day's bounty.

Below are all the recipes I found and used with pictures and links. I made other things and I still have 2 galloons in my freezer. As many of you know, I am new at the culinary arts, but I love a challenge and this made a very memorable July for me and my family

This was so pretty, you could not begin to take a bad picture of it
Blackberry ice cream you can make without a churn.  I received this from the fabulous Amy Huff, who saw my plentiful supply and was more than ready to lend me a helpful hand, plus she introduced me to the blog it came from, Baked by an Introvert, and what can I say, but that I identify with her completely. #introvertsunite

Next on the list, I looked for cocktails and this blackberry mint julep was it.  I loved making the simply syrup for this (in the picture on the left), but the cocktail on the right made for some messy business in the kitchen, and my white porcelain sink.  Taking the blackberries and pushing them through a sieve does not only stain you, but everything else it touches.  Muddle next time and live with the seeds is what I say, and wear black when you are doing it.

I loved this Martha Stewart drink recipe called Blackberry Mint Julep. You have to do the sieve thing with the blackberries for this one, as well, so you might as well do a very large batch and then try both.  I preferred one over the other, since they both have completely different tastes.

John Besh's cobbler from My Family Table, a cookbook that I love, love, love because I am most interested right now in Southern fare (things like grits & seafood dishes are tops on my list).  I have made this before and you can use any type of fruit, but unfortunately this time, it was a bit mushy the next day due to the ripeness of the berries. Note to self: add cornstarch next time.

By far, the best thing under the sun, was this recipe, called Grilled Fontana + Blackberry Basil Smash Sandwiches. If the name alone doesn't compel you, the pictures will.  When you make it, pleasssse, have no shame or guilt.  God did not put these things on this earth and the blogger who put them together, Jessica Merchant, for you to do anything but savor them.  Amen.