Note: I didn’t write on Easter, but I did collect photos and cook on Saturday night. I’ll have a NEW MLVG post up later today. I may write on my lunch hour since I’m excited to share the deliciousness of our local goodness very soon. In the meantime, I’m sharing this “blackberry” post from last year. I have a feeling our Oklahoma berry vines will be producing a little early this year, so it’s already time to think about how you might enjoy their goodness. If you’ve not yet tried “pick your own” at Sorghum Mill, I definitely recommend them. They have a lovely operation. Thanks, RDK
(Originally published May 31, 2011): Normally we Okies can anticipate berry season by thinking: Mother’s Day – strawberries; Memorial Day weekend – time for blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. However, I mentioned last week that this year brought a cruel weather pattern. Berry farmers are still suffering the consequences of an extended Fall/Spring drought as well as three or four dips during the winter to temperatures at ten below zero.
The owner of Sorghum Mill Christmas Tree and Blackberry Farm particularly noted the cold weather for what they’re seeing now: the freeze may have damaged the ability for the normal flow of water and nutrients to feed their bushes. The berries are simply not themselves this year. Nor are the berries nearly as abundant.
I stopped by to check on Sorghum Mill Farms Memorial Day afternoon. She and I talked a bit on the porch and she allowed me an early peek into the harvest, although she said they would be ready for the public in about two weeks. She was right. Normally, their berries are (seriously) approximately 1.5 to even 2″ long. They’re monstrous. But not this year. And it appears that what berries they have are not only about half the normal size, but are much more sparse.
I was surprised, however, at the raspberries. They seemed to be in a bit better shape, and it appears that both strains I saw were producing at a decent rate. Certainly not at their full capacity, but maybe a bit better than the blackberries. It took me about 45 minutes to glean two drinking cups of berries: one black and one red. Here are some of the photos I took while on the property:
I think I’ll put the recipe at the bottom of this post in full, but will share the steps under the photos I took of the building and baking process. To begin? Set your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, put 4oz of butter, 1.5 cups of flour, and 1/2 c. of powdered sugar into a food processor. Pulse until you see a mealy texture. This doesn’t take long at all.
Next pour in most of a 1/4th cup measure of fresh lemon juice. Pulse as you do this. Once the dough is binding or clinging together in small drops, it’s done. I used 1/4 c. plus about 1 T. of juice. Prep a good surface for the dough (I sprinkle a tiny bit of flour on my surface), dump your mixture onto the surface and push or knead gently into a flat circular shape. Sprinkle a tiny bit of flour on top, roll the dough out to about 1/4″ thick (about the size of my baking sheet) and place into the refrigerator while you prepare your berries.
While the dough is chilling, measure 1 pound of berries then pour into a bowl. Add 3 Tablespoons of powdered sugar, 1/2 t. cinnamon and 1 tsp of fresh lemon zest. Gently toss until the berries are coated and the mixture is evenly distributed.
Once your berry mixture is tossed and coated (and ten minutes have lapsed), remove your pastry from the refrigerator and brush the center with egg white. Then simply pile the berries in the center, fold up the edges around the berries. This allows the pastry to act as a little basket, holding them while they bake.
Next, the recipe doesn’t call for this, but I sprinkle a fine coating of sugar on the outside of the crust and over the berries. I know the berries were on the front side of being ripe, so I don’t want to repel my diners with something that is too tart…although I LOVE tart deserts! Bake the pastry for 30-35 minutes, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and serve…warm or cool. Wowzers.
While the pie was baking, instead of cleaning up my kitchen I grabbed the last three Shitake mushrooms I had from Om Garden (purchased at the Urban Agrarian Stand), sauteed them in some olive oil, added a bit of shredded ham, cracked an egg over the mixture, and folded it over. Once my egg was done I nibbled at it and cleaned the kitchen until the pie was finished. THEN….I ate the pie for breakfast.
Well, that wraps up my Little Victory Garden post for today except for two things. First, a confession. There were five or six raspberries OVER exactly a pound. Therefore, I ate them too. With heavy cream and a bit of fine sugar. Then I fainted because they were so good. Luckily, my dog was around to lick my face to wake me up off the floor. Or maybe she was being a napkin for those berries. Either way, I recovered.
Well, that’s all for this week. My hope is that you are able to find a few berries this season, if for no other reason than to drown in a bit of cream and sugar. Next week, we may have some new Yukon Gold potatoes to play with, and I think we’re going to make some cider-braised short ribs to go with them. I feel faint again…perhaps I should sign out. Have a great week,
Recipe for Blueberry, Blackberry or Raspberry Pie
1.5 cups flour
4 oz butter, chopped
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 pound fresh blueberries (or blackberries/raspberries)
3 T. powdered sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Place the flour, butter and powdered sugar in a food processor. Process for 15 seconds or until fine and crumbly. Add almost all the juice and process briefly until the mixture comes together, adding more juice if necessary. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of baking paper and press together until smooth. Roll out to a circle about 12″ in diameter and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Place blueberries in a bowl and sprinkle powdered sugar, rind and cinnamon over the top. (Note: if using blackberries, I suggest an additional 2-3 T. of powdered sugar, depending upon their tartness).
Place the dough (still on the baking paper) onto an oven tray. Brush the centre lightly with egg white. Pile blueberry mixture onto dough in a circle 8 inches in diameter; fold edges of the pastry over the filling. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Dust the top with powdered sugar and serve.
Final note – this recipe comes from The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook, by Murdoch books.