It is blackberry season again here in the Northwest. The tenacious blackberry. We curse them 10 months of the year but for a few glorious months they are exalted. Out we trudge, like gladiators to the berry patch, covered in an armor of thick clothes and leather gloves, armed with clippers to battle the bramble for the sweet, shinning berries of delight. Working in the golden light with hands and mouths stained purple, there is a peace that settles over one, that is until your flesh is ripped by a thorn. Yes, the blackberries demand a price for their sweetness and the price is blood.
Blackberries are not only delicious but also loaded with all kinds of goodness. They have high levels of anthocyanins, which are what give berries their characteristic red, blue and black colors. Antioxidants are knights in red satin, protecting the heart and circulatory system, staving off mental decline and beating back the aging process. (Give me more!) The darker the berry the higher concentration of antioxidants so blackberries rate pretty high.
Of course the very best way to eat blackberries is raw, fresh off the vine. That is when they are full of all the nutrients that nature gave them. When you cook them they lose a lot of their nutrient value but still retain their antioxidant benefits. (Amazingly enough, frozen fruit does not lose much nutrient value) I did a bunch of experimenting with different raw recipes and have come up with an excellent raw blackberry syrup recipe that I like better than the conventional one. It keeps for about a week , (longer in the freezer) has a great thick texture and is the foundation for endless recipes to play with in the cave.
All of these recipes that I am sharing here with you today are easy peasy. They can be made in a jiffy with no stress and are deeeelicious. So you have no excuse to try these recipes. The only thing that is standing between you and and these great blackberry delights is the bramble. So go out there and get those blackberries before the rains return and the berries disappear for another year.
Raw and wild blackberry syrup
3 soften (in hot water for 10 minutes) chopped fat pitted dates
2 Tablespoons of honey
Zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 cups of fresh blackberries, washed and picked through
Blend dates and honey till in a fragrant paste. Add the blackberries to the blender until everything is pureed. Taste for sweetness and add more honey if needed. Strain the seeds out or not, depending on the texture you like. Use on everything but the cat.
Make a double batch of the raw and wild blackberry syrup and cool in the freezer. After an hour or two, put in the right amount into your ice cream maker, usually 1.5 quarts, and start it up. (You do have an ice cream maker don’t you?) Freeze till you have a smooth sorbet worth serving to the queen. If you do not have an ice cream maker, just stick it in the freezer and keep stirring it every hour or so till it is the consistency that you desire.
Blackberry ice cream or fro yo
Take 3 cups of your handy dandy blackberry syrup and add one cup of coconut milk or yogurt and a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Taste to see if it is sweet enough, if not add a little honey that has been warmed up and stir till it tastes perfect. Place in the fridge for up to four hours. This is called “ripening” the ice cream and really makes it taste better. (Can be skipped if you just have to have it now!) Process in your ice cream maker till smooth and luscious. (If you do not have an ice cream maker here, you’re out of luck here.)
Beautiful, easy, delicious.
For the lemon mousse;
3/4 cup of chilled whipping cream
1 cup of cream of coconut ( the thick cream at the top of the coconut milk can)
OR 1 cup of cream cheese
2 tablespoon of honey, warmed
Zest and juice of one lemon
Using your amazing electric mixer, beat the whipping cream till it forms soft peaks. Mix together the cream of coconut, honey and lemon zest and juice. Taste for sweetness and add more honey if it needs. Fold the whipped cream into the cream of coconut concoction in 3 additions. Tuck in the fridge for at least an hour for the flavors to marry.
The rest of the equation;
1-2 cups of fresh blackberries
Toasted sliced almonds
In a beautiful glass add in layers; a dob of the mousse, some blackberries, a few tablespoons of syrup and almonds. Continue to layer till the top of the glass and top with the syrup, blackberries and almonds. Everyone will “oh and ah” as they happily dive into these.