Summer is on my mind. I enjoy spending long summer days with my daughters. But when I think of the season on Fish Pot Road, I think of blackberries—my favorite part of summer. Not only were the little purple berries tasty and offered juicy treats, but hunting for them was cause to explore the winding fields and dense woods around our neighborhood. Most of our berry picking was done in groups and would last all day long. Our parents had no idea where we were and would not worry unless we didn’t show up for supper. (Can you imagine?) (photo by Steve)
I rarely went into the woods ALL by myself, but on occasion I squirreled off to one of my two favorite places. In one of my favorite spots—about half a mile from my home, blackberries dotted the hilly landscape. Part of its magic was that it wasn’t that easily found. It was the clearing at the end of a path, which looked like a dirt road, littered with old cars and farming equipment.Blackberry bushes grew lavishly around there. At the end of the path was a huge clearing, in either direction, a clear, steep path of pipeline-hills. I could sit and watch out over those hills for hours, after picking mounds of blackberries that I knew I would be eating later on, still helping myself to a few as a I sat there. It was nice when I had my best friend, Brenda, with me, but it was even better when I was there alone.
The first treat I made myself after berry picking was a bowl of sun-warmed berries with cream or milk poured over it and sugar sprinkled on it. I liked to squeeze the berries into the milk and watch as the purple juice made purple milk. I didn’t wait for my mother to make a cobbler or pie to taste the goodness of earth in those berries. I can still smell those baking, juicy berries, and see my mother
opening the oven door, pulling out a perfectly-shaped pie, with a little purple ooze cascading off the sides. The reward for all my hard foraging was the first bite of that sweet summer treat, still fresh and warm in my mind. Do you have favorite summer food memories?
Nothing is quite so satisfying as picking your own berries. Perhaps it’s the knowing where the food came from and taking part in this ancient practice of foraging. If you don’t have access to fresh
blackberries and must use frozen berries, it’s best to measure them while still frozen because they shrivel as they thaw. Thaw and drain the frozen berries before placing them in the pie shell. Otherwise, the pie will be watery. Use cornstarch or potato starch, which gives a clear, jewel-like color and has less flavor than cornstarch. This recipe is from my second cookbook, Mrs.
Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies (Ten Speed Press 2009). While it’s not my mom’s recipe, it
certainly has become a part of our family pie pantheon. And yes, I know it’s not quite blackberry season, but that’s no reason not to dream about it.
Makes one 9-inch pie
4 1/2 cups blackberries
3 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
1 cup sugar
In a small saucepan, mash one cup of berries
with a fork. Cook over medium heat until the berries begin to
break down and give off juice.
Mix 3 tablespoons of potato starch or cornstarch
with 1 cup sugar. Add to the berry mixture and cook until thick
and bubbling. Sugar will be dissolved, mixture will coat a
spoon and a finger run along the spoon will leave clean edges. Cool to lukewarm. Place the remaining berries into the baked pie
shell. Pour the mixture over the berries and stir
around gently to distribute evenly.
Chill for 3 to 4 hours or overnight.
Serve with whipped cream.