Savoring the last of blackberry season
Updated: Oct 5, 2018
One of my favorite things about living in the Great Pacific Northwest is the abundance of naturally thriving fruits - blackberries in particular. They are literal weeds in Washington State with their thick, thorny vines bearing petite pink flowers in the spring, turning to green berries in June and July, and finally, the most luscious and juicy blackberries in the final weeks of summer. The blackberry bushes on Bainbridge Island are as inescapable as their berries are plentiful; growing along every roadway, flanking every trail, and even poking through porches! (In fact, I have a few vines that would grow into an open window, should I let them.) But do not mistake these wild blackberries for store bought - straight off the vine, they are sweet and tender with the most delicate earthy flavor, produced only after soaking up the entirety of the summer sun. These naturally occurring culinary jewels lend themselves to a variety of dishes - from sweet or savory, to breakfast through dessert. It's hard not to get creative with blackberries so bountiful that even the wild animals cannot keep up!
Nearing the end of the window to pick blackberries, I decided Lucca and I would enjoy a picturesque late summer day foraging for these naturally sweet treats in this local garden of Eden, and since we were there, we couldn't resist harvesting the barrage of other fresh fruit, as well! I have a soft spot for Johnson Farm, public farmland on Bainbridge Island, because it's adjacent to my childhood home and I grew up exploring every nook and cranny of the land (even getting to enjoy it before it opened to the public!). Featuring a pond, trails, p-patch, barn and fruit trees bearing apples, pears, plums and walnuts; there's no wonder Johnson Farm is one of my favorite places on our island!
After fueling up, it was time for business. Venturing just off the beaten path, I found the perfect alley of blackberries to pursue. The luscious, fragile berries stay sheltered among the sharp, unwelcoming thorns of the bush, making their harvest a survival of the fittest. The largest, most picturesque blackberries lie just out of reach, always taunting and reminding you of the buried treasure hidden within. Regardless, skimming the surface of a twenty-foot span yielded a whopping fifteen pounds of berries and zero injuries! Hooray!
Enjoying a well deserved snack on the fruits of our labor, we wrapped up our blackberry picking adventure being in awe of the fact that the bushes appeared untouched. The majority of remaining berries will go unsavored, but I had completed my mission of picking enough blackberries for three pies and, due to my slowly melting toddler, felt content calling it a day.
Fifteen pounds of fresh berries is hard to get through quickly - so what was my plan? To make three Blackberry Pies! Why would I need to make three pies? Well, I don't, really. But I would like to make my incredibly sweet and generous neighbors something delicious, so there's one. The second pie is to photograph for this blog (and then, of course, devour). The berries for the third pie will be frozen for later use, most likely in the dead of winter when I am missing the flavors of summer and need a reminder that the weather will get better...
Now onto the fruits of my labor! (Pun definitely intended.) My obsession with this Blackberry Pie is unreal. The next time you have a plethora of blackberries (or any berry, really), make it, become equally obsessed with its decadent layers of silky cream cheese, sweet berry, and freshly whipped cream, and then try to share it with someone you love, or in my case, greatly appreciate!