Appalachian Wednesday–Blackberry Time

blackberrySummer is a fruitful time in the soft, green mountains of Appalachia. The black raspberries are done (no recipes here, I just eat them as I find them!) and now it’s time for blackberries. (Early apples soon to come!) The season promises to be prolific with enough for me AND the bears.

When it comes to blackberries there are pies, jellies, jams, sauces, salads, and even sweet tea. But really, I think most of two things–cobbler and wine. My great-grandmother was a believer in blackberry wine to cure most things. A family story goes that when my brother was a baby he had an, er, intestinal upset that doctor’s couldn’t cure. A tablespoon of blackberry wine from Grandma Jane and he was good as new!

So here’s a recipe from a booklet titled, Oppis Guet’s Vo, Helvetia. It includes recipes, household hints and cures collected by Eleanor Mailloux from the residents of a Swiss Village near where I grew up in WV.

“On a lovely August day, find yourself a blackberry patch and pick a couple of gallons of berries. Put in crock and cover with water. Let set for a day–whenever you think of it mash and stir. Strain into containers and add 3 1/2 cups sugar to every gallon of juice. Usually, blackberries don’t take yeast, but for your first try you might add 1/2 cake dissolved yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water–add to juice and stir well. Ferment until stops working, put in jugs and cover tops with cloth. Let continue to work in warm place until bubbles cease to rise. When completely fermented, seal. Drink the following spring.”

And for a more practical recipe, you might try this cobbler from the Jubilation Cookbook for the Joyful Woman given to me by Anna Cutright in January 1989.

Blackberry Cobbler – Margaret Holmes
-Put 1 stick of butter in a deep dish and put into oven at 350 degrees.
-Mix: 2-4 cups blackberries with 1 cup sugar
-Mix: 3/4 cup plain flour, 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup sweet milk, 2 tsp. baking powder
Stir into a smooth batter. Pour batter gently into center of melted butter. DO NOT STIR. Gently pour fruit into center of melted butter and batter. DO NOT STIR. Bake about 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Of course, my Southern husband says this isn’t cobbler. But that would launch a discussion on dumpling styles and sinkers vs. floaters and, well, that’s a whole other discussion for another day.

3 thoughts on “Appalachian Wednesday–Blackberry Time

  1. I LOVE blackberries! SO much so that I imported some from a friend’s farm outside of town. Imagine my horror this spring when a good 1/2 of the canes were dead. I actually whimpered while looking at all the brown, icky canes!

    I’ll be trying this recipe. Mmmm. Thank you!

      1. Mom

        you need an old hog pen! (and it wasn’t blackberry wine… just the juice off of canned blackberries… all that good pectin!)

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