Summer's end brings memories of picking blackberries along roadsides and ditches...and being scratched mercilessly as we tried to fill our buckets.
In my garden however, the picking is so much easier! Our one plant of Marionberries (a large, glossy black berry which grows on thornless canes) has provided me with lots of berries this year.
There was a time many years ago that we researched this most popular tame blackberry...and had visions of planting twenty acres in our community as an experiment of sorts. We were growing raspberries commercially at that time and thought blackberries might be an excellent crop to introduce to our area. The local and federal departments of agriculture encouraged us to go ahead...however, we felt it was too much of a financial risk and in the end the plan to introduce Marionberries to our area was abandoned. To my knowledge there are still no commercial fields of Marionberries in British Columbia...although they are being grown at U-pick farms. After all these years, I'm quite happy to have Marionberries growing on our farm...albeit on a rather small scale!
The Marionberry is known as the queen of blackberries. It has a rich, almost floral flavour that is perfect for pies, cakes, jams and ice-creams. It was first introduced in Oregon in 1956, and most of North America's Marionberries are grown south of Portland, Oregon. Since Marionberries are higher in antioxidents than blueberries, their popularity has soared over the past few years.
I've made all kinds of things with blackberries these past few weeks. Anneliese's streusel cake with blackberries has been a big hit....it's quick and simple and wonderfully moist.
And there's nothing quite like blackberry pie! Use the pastry of your choice for a double crust pie...fill with 4 cups blackberries, 3/4 cup sugar, 4 Tablespoons tapioca and a pinch of cinnamon. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes...decrease to 350 F and bake for an additional 45 minutes.
If you have a chance to try the queen of blackberries...you won't be sorry.
And we have sunshine today...it's been absent for some time, so it is a welcome sight!