It took us five years to battle that damn invasive Himalayan blackberry monstrosity in our backyard, but we now have it tamed to a wiley (yet surprisingly mighty) cane that sneaks out from under the deck once a year.
The only thing we miss from that pokey cousin of Audrey II is the juicy succulent fruit with which we smothered our cereal, stuffed into smoothies and baked into delicious crusted pies.
But the enormity of the plant would take over our back yard and despite the gift of yummy berries, the grief-to-earnings ratio tipped erroneously in the plant’s favor. Hence the five years of continuous eradication of canes, roots and thorns – we are convinced the roots wind under every acres of Seattle, snaking a way into every patch of dirt available.
Now that the beast is extant we now purchase our berries from the farmers markets or by helping friends harvest (and battle) their own.
Despite the consternation towards invasive blackberry plants, I absolutely love the fruit. The summer is berry-heaven for most PNWesterners and we gorge ourselves in black, blue, straw and rasp-berries, like the indigenous cultures did before us. And why not? Berries are abundant and just gosh darn tasty!
Since blackberries are beginning to wane on Capitol Hill, my friends and I jaunted off to Washington Park this past Sunday on the south end of the Arboretum to hand-pick the filling for our annual blackberry pie feast. Because when your pie hole is jonesing for blackberry pie, you must abide; it’s karmic law and cannot be denied.
With containers in hand, we braved the spiders and thorns and between the six of us picked 10 cups of plump berries in just less than an hour.
High in antioxidants, Vitamins A (308 IU), C (30 mg), and K (29mg), one cup of berries is about 62 calories with eight grams of fiber. Studies show that they are high in calcium and boost skin cell protection.
Gobbled raw they are an excellent source of healthy nutrition. Baked with sugar, flour, pie crust (oh, and topped with ice cream), um, not so much.
During the baking phase of our pie hole feast, we washed and cleaned away the leaves and stems from our pillaged loot before mixing with sugar and flour. We were using a secret recipe that my friend Laurie Miller only keeps in her head. Instead of fussing with homemade crust, the store bought ones easily lined the ceramic pie plates, perfectly wielding a deep and wide doughy maw to hold the sweet jubilee of blackberry compote.
Baked at 425 degrees for 15 minutes then 375 for another 45 minutes, we took the pies out to cool about an hour later. The pie should cool for much longer than the 10 minutes we impatiently waited. Whether a quarter hour or a full twenty-four, this pie is outstanding nonetheless, especially with a vanilla ice cream garnish!
Drooling? Here’s a simple Allrecipes.com recipe (not Laurie’s secret one, mind you!) to fill your own pie hole: