Appalachian Thursday–Blackberries!

blackberrySummer is a fruitful time in the soft, green mountains of Appalachia. The black raspberries are gone and now we have more blackberries than we know what to do with. The season has been prolific with more than 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 complaint that doctors 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 Helvetia–a Swiss Village near where I grew up in WV. I don’t know if the recipe is any good, but the writing is great!

“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.

My advice would be to serve that with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream!

5 thoughts on “Appalachian Thursday–Blackberries!

  1. Buffy White

    A friend just gave us a huge bag of frozen blackberries! I made a pie, but wasn’t sure what to do next. Thanks, Sarah, for all the ideas and the recipes!
    Btw, what’s the best method for getting out the seeds?

    1. If you make wine, I want some! When you have fresh berries, they’re great tossed in a salad with feta cheese and some balsamic vinaigrette. I mean GREAT. As for getting the seeds out, just call them fiber and swallow 😉

  2. Oh, I love blackberries … and especially blackberry cobbler. With vanilla ice cream on top. 🙂 My grandmother once had an amazing display of blackberries … heaven for me … I believe a drought killed them off one year. I love this recipe because it’s easy. My grandmother would cut the dough, lay strips, etc. Hard. And I’m just not as good of a cook as she was. 🙂

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