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Blackberries, nom nom

September 26, 2012

Beautiful Blackberries

I cannot help myself. I must do it….again. I must write about blackberries. After all this has been the most perfect blackberry season that I can remember in a long time. The berries are gorgeous and voluptuous, hanging temptingly from thorn laden vines just inviting me wax poetically about them. So I will.

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’ve included one uncooked blackberry recipe made with natural sweeteners for those that want to keep it raw and wild.

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. (I’m talking to you, yes you. You know who you are, the one who reads these recipes but never tries them. These recipes are for you!) The only thing that is standing between you and a these great blackberry delights is the bramble. So go out there and get those blackberries before the rains return.

Perfect Blackberry Syrup
I like to add the zest and juice of one lemon or lime to this for a racer flavor. Lasts two weeks in the fridge.

4-5 cups of blackberries, washed and picked through
1/2 to 1 cup of sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
1/3 cup of water

Plop everything in a 2-3 quart saucepan. Turn the burner onto medium high and stir a lot till it just barely begins to bubble. Lower heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Now you have the big decision of if you want to leave it like that or strain it through a fine mesh strainer using a rubber spatula. I like to strain mine for a silky texture but hubby like the seeds in there. (Guess he likes to pick his teeth.) Good on everything.

Raw and wild blackberry syrup
This is a smaller batch because it only last for a few days. Keep it in the freezer and if you aren’t going to use it right away.
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.

Blackberry ice cream

Blackberry sorbet
Make one of the blackberry syrups and cool down in the fridge. 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
This is really good made with Greek style vanilla yogurt!
Take 3 cups of your handy dandy blackberry syrup and add one cup of cream, yogurt or milk and a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Taste to see if it is sweet enough, if not add a little powdered sugar 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. Serve with the blackberry cobbler for sheer delight! (If you do not have an ice cream maker here, you’re out of luck here.)

Blackberry Parfaits

Blackberry parfaits
Beautiful, easy, delicious.
For the lemon mousse;
8 oz of cream cheese
3/4 cup of chilled whipping cream
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
Zest and juice of one lemon

Using your amazing electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of powdered sugar, lemon zest and juice till fluffy. In another bowl, but with the same yummy beaters, beat the whipping cream till it forms soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese 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
Blackberry syrup of your choice
Toasted sliced almonds or Gingersnap cookies, crumbled (optional)

In a beautiful glass add in layers; a dob of the mousse, some blackberries, a few tablespoons of syrup and almonds or gingersnap crumbles. Continue to layer till the top of the glass and top with the syrup, blackberries and almonds (or gingersnaps). Everyone will “oh and ah” as they happily dive into these.

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