Sweet blackberry, why do I love thee? Well, let me count the whys.
1) You're actually a bunch of little berries packed into one convenient vehicle. Between the pressure of my teeth, each plump, rounded bead of flavor pops and releases its tiny torrent of juicy goodness.
2) You're a survivor. I spy your prickly vines winding around fences or along roadsides, thriving without cultivation.
3) You leave evidence of your presence to remind me of my good fortune in finding you. Telltale purple stains on my fingers and lips keep me thinking of you long after you’re gone.
4) You remind me of my granddad. Before I could walk, he'd carry me around the blackberry bushes at his farm where I would simultaneously pick and eat what I called (in baby babble) "daddy's bears."
As you may have surmised from my above ode to blackberries, these intensely hued yet delicately flavored berries are my hands-down favorite fruit. So a sunny summer afternoon spent picking them is one way to describe my idea of a perfect day. I had my perfect day about a week ago at Barber Berry Farms in Millbrook. Only a few miles from Montgomery, it’s an 8-acre U-pick operation offering pesticide-free blueberries and blackberries, which are thornless, making it amazingly easy to quickly fill a gallon bucket (and our your mouth). The farm pulls raw honey from its hives and will have muscadines ready for harvest in August, but the berries are the real stars, and now is their time to shine.
As we all gear up for the 4th of July weekend, I thought I’d share two simple and refreshing ways to enjoy blackberries while they’re at their peak. You won’t need much time or too many ingredients to whip up both of these recipes just in time for fireworks.
(makes one drink)
- 1/2 cup fresh blackberries, plus a few extra berries for garnish
- 1 1/2 tablespoons simple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
- 1, 1/2-inch cucumber slice, chopped into quarters
- crushed ice
- 1 cup club soda
Fill a tall glass about 1/3 full with crushed ice. Add 1/2 cup of blackberries to the ice and use a spoon to crush the berries into the ice. Add the chopped basil and simple syrup. Add the cucumber quarters. Pour the club soda over it all and stir. Toss in the extra blackberries and enjoy! If you'd like it a bit sweeter, just add more berries and/or more simple syrup.
Feel free to add a shot of rum or vodka!
Angel Food Cake with Blackberry Sauce
- 1 store-bought angle food cake (or a pound cake)
- 1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
- 2 tablespoons honey (raw and local is best!)
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- mascarpone cheese (optional, can substitute vanilla ice cream)
Mix the honey, lime juice and mint and pour over the berries. Let the berries macerate in the mixture for about an hour or even overnight. Drizzle the berry sauce over slices of cake and top with a small spoonful of mascarpone cheese or a scoop of ice cream.