Black and blue cobbler delightAug 1st, 2012 | Category: Cooking
by Tina Hoban
Picking blackberries on a warm summer day is such a sweet chore. Many years ago, when I had first moved to the Pacific Northwest, I picked my first blackberries from an overgrown vacant lot. Their aroma was intoxicating. At the time, I remember feeling like I was breaking the rules. Surely someone wanted these lovely little gems. Little did I know that blackberries were not a rare find. It wasn’t until I moved to the county that I realized that the Himalayan Blackberry is pervasive enough to be called a weed by some. And even though I curse every time its rooting limbs invade an area that I am trying to claim, all is forgiven when the berries start to ripen.
Blackberries can be used in a variety of ways. They are great tossed in a salad, baked into muffins or cobbler, or of course made into jams or jellies. One way to preserve them for use in the winter is to turn them into a sweet blackberry syrup, which is great on pancakes. My neighbor and avid canner, Terry Maczuga, shared her blackberry syrup recipe with me, and I have made it every year since. I usually can the syrup in jars, but it also keeps well in the freezer. It truly makes one of the best pancake syrups around (you can keep your maple, Vermont!).
Note: Blackberries have large seeds, and I prefer to remove them when I make jams or sauces. To make a seedless blackberry puree: Place your blackberries in a shallow saucepan and put 1/4” of water in the bottom of the pan. Heat the blackberries, stirring occasionally, until the berries fall apart. At this point, you can use a food mill to remove the seeds, or use a fine mesh strainer. Place the strainer over a bowl and pour some of the sauce into its basket. Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to rub the berries against the strainer, leaving the seeds behind.
Black and Blue Cobbler
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 cups blackberries
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup blue cornmeal (or yellow)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
For the filling: Mix together the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the blackberries and toss to coat. Pour the berries into a 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish.
For the topping: In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the butter pieces and rub the butter and flour together with your fingers until no lumps of butter remain. Add the cream and stir until a soft dough forms. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons over the berries to cover. Place the baking dish on a sheet tray to catch drips and place in the oven. Bake for 16 – 18 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the topping is nicely browned and no longer doughy.
Try this syrup on pancakes, or drizzle over ice cream or cake.
8 cups blackberry puree (see article)
4 – 6 cups sugar (sweeten to taste)
1 pkg. pectin
2 – 3 tablespoons lemon juice
Place the puree into a large shallow pot. Stir in the pectin.
Bring the puree to a full boil.
Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved.
Boil for 1 minute.
Remove from heat.
To can: Ladle the hot syrup into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4” headspace. Process half pints in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Pints for 15 minutes.
To freeze: Cool the syrup completely. Portion into 1 or 2 cup freezer containers and freeze.
This article was published in the August 2012 issue of Grow Northwest magazine.