in praise of (thornless) blackberries
September 1. I love watching guests’ faces as they wade into the blackberries and realize there are no thorns. That moment of disbelief followed by grateful relaxation.
In Northern California we’re all used to fortresslike stands of Himalayan blackberries that have made themselves at home, and we know the more modest but still prickly native blackberries. We planted thornless varieties – Triple Crown has the biggest berries, Chester extends the season two to three weeks past the rest – along our first orchard’s deer fence ten years ago. As the gardens have expanded, so have our berry plantings. We eat them every day while they last, and freeze enough for an abundance of winter pies.
Here’s the berry crisp I bake most often, as it is practically effortless and fits my summer cooking requirement of ten-minute-maximum prep time.
–Toss 5 cups berries with a tablespoon of flour and mound into pie pan.
–Mix together a scant cup of flour and 1/3 cup brown sugar.
–Cut 5 tablespoons cold butter into flour mixture until the largest pieces are pea-sized.
–Spoon this over the berries.
–Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until top starts to brown.
It’s a toss-up which is most popular: still warm with vanilla ice cream, or with yogurt for breakfast.