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eG Cook-Off #78: The Cane Berries of Summer


David Ross
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Summer is the best time of year for a cook.  The time of year when the bounty of Mother Nature is literally at our fingertips each day.  One of the stars of any summer table is the variety of cane berries that grow throughout the season. 

 

Many people haven't heard the term "cane berry."  The most well-known cane berries are the raspberry and the blackberry. Raspberries and blackberries can be found year-round in the supermarket sitting in small plastic clamshell containers and commanding a high price.  Yet there are other delicious cane berries that are absent from the supermarket but are just as juicy and delicious.   Summer delivers the loganberry and boysenberry and other regional favorite cane berries.  I hail from the Willamette Valley in western Oregon where we proudly introduced the marionberry in 1956.  (The marionberry is a cross between the Chehalem and Ollalieberry that grown in regions west of the Cascade Mountains).

 

Cane berries are part of the rose family of plants.  And like roses, cane berries have long stems (canes), some are studded with prickly little thorns.  Some say that the fruit of a cane berry has the sweet fragrance of rose petals.  One thing we can all agree on is that cane berries adapt well to changes in the weather, but the thrive in hot sun. Yet the cane berry doesn't always have a glowing reputation.  Some people consider the blackberry to be a noxious weed that flourishes alongside rural roadsides and along creeks and canals.  By the end of summer a wild blackberry patch can literally consume a road.  I've seen helpless county road crews try to wrangle with a blackberry patch only to see it come back even stronger just a few weeks later.

 

Cane berries have numerous possibilities when it comes to the kitchen and bar.  They go into cocktails and cordials, cobblers, pies and pastries. And it doesn't end at the doorstep of sweets.  Cane berries add tart, sweet, fruit flavor to grilled meats, blended into compotes, chutneys and rich meat reduction sauces.  I happen to like cane berries in a summer salad with soft triple crème cheese then tossed with a classic French vinaigrette.

 

Let's take a trip to the local farmer's market or trek into the blackberry row and pick some ripe, sweet berries to present at the table of

eG Cook-Off #78: The Cane Berries of Summer. (See the complete eG Cook-Off Index here.)

 

Oregon Marionberries-

Oregon Marionberries.jpg

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Growing up on Long Island, NY, our next door neighbors had raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry growing in their back yard. The kids were given plastic buckets in the morning to pick all of the ripe berries. I developed my love of raspberries from that time, when they were free and plentiful. The summer “cane berries” are a sweet reminder of that time for me and I will enjoy seeing what everyone makes.

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"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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Here are two raspberry pastries I do every early summer when we see some local berries in Eastern Washington.  We're about a month later than the growing season for raspberries West of the Cascade Mountains.

 

The raspberry lemon bars are pretty simple.  I make a bottom crust of melted butter and powdered sugar.  That's it.  Then a basic lemon bar filling, but I always double the recipe and triple the lemon juice.  I boost it with some pure lemon extract.  Then cool, dust with powdered sugar and fresh raspberries.  All I do is just put the raspberries on top.

Raspberry Lemon Bars (2).jpg

 

Then the same crust, crème anglaise and again just fresh raspberries from the local farmer's market on top.  I haven't made either of these this season, but will this coming week!

Raspberry (2).jpg

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Oh, you're talking my language, here.

 

I grew up on blackberries, the wild ones. I've graduated to the cultivated kind -- MUCH easier to pick, although not as sweet. Not to mention you don't look like you've been in a fight with a horde of angry cats.

 

1770992390_blackberryjam.jpg.7904dad41adab046c128547486161188.jpg

 

Two things, particularly:  First, blackberry jam. I'll put up at least two gallons of blackberries, made into jam, every summer, and enjoy it on toast and biscuits and English muffins all year long. I'm never without an opened jar in the fridge. I cook blackberries with sugar and a little lemon juice, add pectin, bring to a boil, and then jar it and water bath process it. Easiest recipe in the Ball Big Book of Canning and Preserving

 

550650000_bbcobbler0604.jpg.ea9462d9c41caae68c443e01295dfdd8.jpg

Then there's blackberry cobbler. Make up enough pie crust for a two-crust pie (or, if you're me, get the Pillsbury rolled up variety from the dairy case). Cut enough out of one rolled crust to make a top crust for your chosen two-quart baking dish. Cut the rest of that one, and the other one, up into strips and pile them in the casserole. Set the top crust aside.

 

Cook the berries until they start to break down with a little sugar (or agave, or honey). Sweeten it to your taste. For a two-quart dish, you want about a quart of berries. Pour the resultant berries and syrup over the dumplings. Don't bother to stir. Gently lay the top crust on the pie. Cut some steam vents, then brush the crust with melted butter and sprinkle on some raw sugar or sanding sugar.

 

Bake at 350F for about 35-40 minutes, until the top crust is golden brown. Eat while hot, or at least warm,  with the best vanilla ice cream you can procure.

1103013102_bbcobbler0605.jpg.903af5909d907403068d740ad4258671.jpg

 

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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13 minutes ago, kayb said:

Oh, you're talking my language, here.

 

I grew up on blackberries, the wild ones. I've graduated to the cultivated kind -- MUCH easier to pick, although not as sweet. Not to mention you don't look like you've been in a fight with a horde of angry cats.

 

1770992390_blackberryjam.jpg.7904dad41adab046c128547486161188.jpg

 

Two things, particularly:  First, blackberry jam. I'll put up at least two gallons of blackberries, made into jam, every summer, and enjoy it on toast and biscuits and English muffins all year long. I'm never without an opened jar in the fridge. I cook blackberries with sugar and a little lemon juice, add pectin, bring to a boil, and then jar it and water bath process it. Easiest recipe in the Ball Big Book of Canning and Preserving

 

550650000_bbcobbler0604.jpg.ea9462d9c41caae68c443e01295dfdd8.jpg

Then there's blackberry cobbler. Make up enough pie crust for a two-crust pie (or, if you're me, get the Pillsbury rolled up variety from the dairy case). Cut enough out of one rolled crust to make a top crust for your chosen two-quart baking dish. Cut the rest of that one, and the other one, up into strips and pile them in the casserole. Set the top crust aside.

 

Cook the berries until they start to break down with a little sugar (or agave, or honey). Sweeten it to your taste. For a two-quart dish, you want about a quart of berries. Pour the resultant berries and syrup over the dumplings. Don't bother to stir. Gently lay the top crust on the pie. Cut some steam vents, then brush the crust with melted butter and sprinkle on some raw sugar or sanding sugar.

 

Bake at 350F for about 35-40 minutes, until the top crust is golden brown. Eat while hot, or at least warm,  with the best vanilla ice cream you can procure.

1103013102_bbcobbler0605.jpg.903af5909d907403068d740ad4258671.jpg

 

 

Oh my oh my.  The last photo, with the ice cream is just about taken me to the moon and back!  And it reminds me of many family summer dinners at my Grandmother's farmhouse in Prineville, Oregon where we would have blackberry cobbler or pie with homemade ice cream.  That was in the days where we used that awful old hand crank ice cream bucket with salt and ice.  And we turned and turned.  But it was wonderful cranking that ice cream churn out on the porch and scooping it right there onto warm cobbler.  Heck, now that I think about it I should go back to that method and leave the expensive electric ice cream machine, that weighs a ton, locked in the pantry!  Or of course just buy a very good ice cream.  So delicious everything you've shown us.

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I first learned of the term "cane berries" from my Father who for many years worked for the Oregon Agricultural Department in Salem.  He headed up the various commodity commissions that are made up of farmers and ranchers who work with the State to promote their products among other things.  The berries down there really sweeten up in July. 

 

Every Sunday we'd drive over to friends my Father knew who had a horse farm in Molalla, just west of Salem.  The sides of those country roads are bursting with wild blackberries in summer and it's not at all unusual to see folks stopped along the roadside picking berries.  Show that photo to my city friends today and they'd think I was poisoning myself by eating wild berries that had been exposed to car exhaust.  Well, maybe, but I'm still standing and it beats spending $6.99 for a 3oz. plastic hallock of supermarket berries.  Free, wild and sweet. 

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Like @BeeZee I also grew up on...or should I say just off...of Long Island NY

In another thread I told about cruising slowly around the back roads of the island looking to identify where the fruits were.  Wineberries, blackberries ...

Mom grew raspberries that she allowed to go wild on the acre of property we owned.

Now at our home in NW NJ we have had both wineberries and blackcaps...with this cold March I don't think we will get any berries until mid August!!

I prefer to use the wineberries to make a steamed pudding. Growing up we would come home with the spoils, mix up some Bisquick, fold in tje rinsed berries and then popped them into greased coffee cups.  The cups went into a deep kettle with water half the way up the cups.  An hour covered and steaming then de cup and add hard sauce...

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

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Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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We have a variety of wild raspberries in our canyons. However, the drought has not been kind to them. So incredibly flavorful. I will forever have pictured in my mind's eye a father and his 3 kids picking berries; kids splattered with juice and dad begging them to please leave some in the buckets so mom can make a pie. As a Southern Calfrornian of course boysenberries are a big part of my food story. Hello Knott's Berry Farm  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knott's_Berry_Farm

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Has any one ever made a blackberry ketchup?  I'm thinking it might be a nice sauce for grilled pork or chicken, or maybe as an addition to a BBQ sauce.

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8 hours ago, David Ross said:

Has any one ever made a blackberry ketchup?  I'm thinking it might be a nice sauce for grilled pork or chicken, or maybe as an addition to a BBQ sauce.

I've done the Blue Q sauce with blueberries from Deep Run Roots. I would think you could do a similar one with blackberries. It's great on both pork and chicken. The finishing touch, as Vivian notes, is to brush the chicken or pork with a final coat of the sauce when you take it off the heat.

 

It rocks on pork steaks.

 

 

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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I found these beauties in the market this morning.  They're from Sterino Farms in Puyallup, WA, over on the west side of the state.  They were $9.00 for the 4 1/2 pint boxes.  And they had both red and orange raspberries that were nearly as big as the blackberries. The raspberries were literally 3 times bigger than the small boxes you usually find in the supermarket.  I tasted a few and they are incredibly sweet and juicy. 

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IMG_0307.JPG

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These blackberries are so big and juicy I just couldn't put them in a baked cobbler at this point.  So I just had them with vanilla bean ice cream. 

Blackberries with Vanilla Ice Cream.JPG

 

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Two summers ago I created this recipe for a strawberry and watermelon summer salad for a class I was teaching on how to incorporate fresh herbs and spices into dishes.  A few days ago I remember this salad and thought it would work really well by using those big blackberries rather than strawberries.  The strawberry salad includes berries, cucumber, watermelon, feta cheese that I marinate in olive oil and dried herbs, and Italian green olives.  The dressing was olive oil with a bit of sherry vinegar and shallot then fresh basil and mint.

 

For this recipe I used the blackberries rather than strawberries, cucumber, watermelon and simply feta without marinating it in olive oil and herbs. I omitted the olives because I didn't want that strong flavor with these juicy sweet blackberries. I just drizzled a little olive oil over the salad and didn't use the sherry vinegar because again I thought it would be too strong.  Then a little basil, along with fresh mint and fresh oregano from pots on my back steps.  Pretty delicious for a light and crisp summer salad.

Blackberry Salad.JPG

 

Here's a picture of the strawberry version of the salad-

Strawberry Summer Salad (3).jpg

 

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Our wild raspberries are starting to appear, although it will be a few weeks before they're ready to harvest. They're delicious, seedy, wonderful bursts of flavor and color. If I can get enough of them, I'll cook them into a sauce to drizzle over - what, pork tenderloin just before it finishes cooking? I suspect that would make a fine glaze. Suggestions welcome.

 

(The largest challenge for me is collecting enough to cook without eating them all out of hand.)

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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5 minutes ago, Smithy said:

Our wild raspberries are starting to appear, although it will be a few weeks before they're ready to harvest. They're delicious, seedy, wonderful bursts of flavor and color. If I can get enough of them, I'll cook them into a sauce to drizzle over - what, pork tenderloin just before it finishes cooking? I suspect that would make a fine glaze. Suggestions welcome.

 

(The largest challenge for me is collecting enough to cook without eating them all out of hand.)

Sounds delicious over a pork tenderloin.  I had my eye on a turkey tenderloin the other day and was thinking along those same lines.

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One of my favorite cookbooks is Dungeness Crabs and Blackberry Cobblers by Janie Hibler.  It's a testament to cooking of the Pacific Northwest.  There are recipes for blackberries boysenberries, loganberries and raspberries.  I took a look for some ideas for our cook-off and found these wonderful recipes-

-Smoked Quail with Raspberry Mustard Sauce

-Raspberry Tea Bread

-Raspberry Vinegar with Fresh Rosemary

-Boyseberry Swirl Cheesecake with Hazelnut Crust

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Anyone ever made a Summer Pudding?  I've never thought it looked very attractive, but now I'm tempted since we've been talking about cane berries.

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3 hours ago, David Ross said:

Anyone ever made a Summer Pudding?  I've never thought it looked very attractive, but now I'm tempted since we've been talking about cane berries.

I have and was amazed at how good it was. It was a long time ago and I’m sorry but I don’t have a recipe. But do give it a go.  I doubt you will regret it.  

 

Here’s a link to a post by @jackal10 on this very subject. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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I scored a very rare find at a local market yesterday, these Nectarberry's from Sterino Farms on the west side of the State.  Same folks who produced the blackberries I bought last week.  The Nectarberry is a cross between the blackberry, raspberry and loganberry.  I'd never seen nor heard of them until I spotted them in the market.  They have sweet, yet tart flavor and a strong perfume of rose and a little citrus.  I'm making them into a jam so we'll see how it goes.

IMG_0377 - Copy.JPG

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Everything is so late here!  It will be at least 3 more weeks until the wineberries are ready to pick IF they even make it that far without any rain.  Usually I am picking by 4 July. 

 

 

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Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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It seems like here in the Pacific Northwest things are early both on the west side and the east side where I live.  The asparagus was about on time this year and it was a good crop but didn't last long.  The raspberries, big and juicy from the west side, seemed to have started big but are pretty much done now.  We're edging into our really hot weeks so I think things are going to slow down some.

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David - I'm not a fan of berry preservs but I adore their color. Looking forward to some lovely shots of yours  ;)

 

Oh! - do you go purist or mingle in other flavors like herbs, citrus, spices? Also are you traditional on sugar amounts or do you dial down?  Salt?

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17 minutes ago, heidih said:

David - I'm not a fan of berry preservs but I adore their color. Looking forward to some lovely shots of yours  ;)

 

Oh! - do you go purist or mingle in other flavors like herbs, citrus, spices? Also are you traditional on sugar amounts or do you dial down?  Salt?

Well this one was far off what I would normally do.  It was a recipe out of Bon Appetit for fresh raspberry jam and they add bitters.  I added Angostura bitters but also an orange bitters from a artisanal craft place over in Seattle.  I'll take the photo, and taste my nectarberry jam today.  You got me to thinking a little more though.  I think my fresh rosemary might work, maybe not with this fruit but I might try it.  I find the traditional sugar amounts for jams to be way too high for my tastes so I cut it down about 30% or so. 

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The recipe comes from the May 2018 issue of Bon Appetit.  They named it "Raspberry Jam with Bitters."  The basic ingredients are 5 cups raspberries, 1 1/4 cups sugar, 1 tbsp. orange zest, 2 tbsp. orange juice, 2 tbsp. lemon juice and 1 tbsp. Angostura bitters.   I used the nectarberries, and only 3/4 cup sugar.  I didn't have any oranges or lemons, and didn't put it on the shopping list!  But I substituted orange-guava juice I had.  I used 1 tsp. on Angostura bitters, but then realized I also had Orange Bitters from Scrappy's Bitters in Seattle so added 2 tsp. of that.  It tastes a little sweeter than I like, but you can detect the bitters which I think are perfect for this unique caneberry.  I don't think the lack of orange or lemon zest made a difference and I almost think it would have drawn away from the berry taste.  It was a little runny in consistency, so I added another cup of mashed berries to add some texture.  It's more of a sauce than a jam I think. It would be perfect on grilled pork chops or grilled duck breast.  And I have to make an early trip to the market tomorrow morning because this is going to be delicious on an English muffin.

Angostura Bitters.jpgScrappy's Bitters.jpg

Nectarberry Jam.JPG

 

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