Blackberry Season

WRITTEN BY Tamberlyn Dobrowski
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Christina Hussey

I have always loved sweet blackberries and enjoy trying out new ways to incorporate them into recipes when in season. They hold their own tossed into salads or smoothies or served with cheese and crackers as an appetizer. I have spotlighted the blackberry in the following recipes for muffins, salads, entrees, desserts and cocktails. Enjoy the inky, sweet-tart juices from this healthy fruit—a vibrant reminder that summer has arrived!

Blackberry Summer SeasonBLACKBERRY FAST FACTS…

Blackberries are in peak season from June to September.

Blackberries do not ripen once plucked, so choose ripe ones that are bright and aromatic.

Refrigerate berries in their containers and use within a few days. They are sensitive to moisture, so it is best to wash them just prior to use.

Blackberry Soda with Homemade Blackberry Syrup Summer Cocktail


Flavored syrups are one of my favorite parts of drink-making, whether they be boozy or not. Not only are they easy to make, they are also super versatile. This blackberry syrup is great in sodas or cocktails, but I’m warning you, if you pour it over vanilla ice cream, you might not survive the explosion of deliciousness. You can also drizzle it over yogurt, stir a little into a cup of tea or pour it straight over crushed ice, snow-cone style.

For the syrup (makes about 1¾ cups):
2 cups fresh blackberries, washed
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
½ lime, juice and zest

For the sodas:
Sparkling water (or ginger ale, lemon-lime soda or other sparkling beverage you want to add flavor to)
Fresh blackberries or lime wedges, for garnish

To prepare the syrup:
In a pot over medium heat, add the blackberries, sugar, water, lime juice and zest. Let cook for 4–6 minutes, or until the blackberries have softened and can be easily squished against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon. Then, do that. Squish the berries with the back of the spoon until all of the berries are broken down. Make sure you’re wearing an apron to protect your clothes from potential spatters. Once the sugar is completely dissolved and the berries are broken down, pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. I suggest setting the bowl in the sink to help mitigate splashes. Reserve the berry pulp for mixing into vanilla ice cream or spreading on toast. Let the syrup cool, then transfer to a tightly lidded bottle or jar. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

To prepare the sodas:
Add 2–4 tablespoons blackberry syrup to a glass with ice. Top with sparkling water (about 8–12 ounces, or to taste), and stir gently to combine. Garnish with fresh berries or a wedge of lime.

Recipe by Willow, Will Cook For Friends

NOTE…To make these sodas boozy, add about an ounce of white rum, tequila, gin or other liqueur.

Honeysuckle Moscow Mule Summer CocktailHONEYSUCKLE MOSCOW MULE

Making the Moscow Mule a little more Southern, one sip at a time. Cheers!

½ ounce lime juice
2 ½ ounces Cathead Honeysuckle
4–6 ounces ginger beer

Stir all ingredients together and pour over cracked ice. Serve in a copper mug or low-ball glass. Garnish with a lime wedge. (You can also dress this up with a mint sprig.)

Recipe from Fondren Public, Jackson, MS

Southbound Greyhound and Ruby Slipper Summer CocktailsSOUTHBOUND GREYHOUND

1 part Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka
2 parts club soda
Lime garnish

Combine vodka and club soda in a cocktail glass filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of lime.

Recipe from Deep Eddy Vodka


2 ounces Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka
½ ounce elderflower liqueur
3 ounce club soda
Lime garnish

Mix vodka and liqueur in a shaker with ice. Pour into a cocktail glass filled with ice. Top off with club soda and garnish with a slice of lime.

Recipe from Deep Eddy Vodka

Mango and Blackberry Salad with Mozzarella and Frisée


They may not sound like a natural pairing, but mango and mozzarella, like tomatoes and mozzarella, work remarkably well together. Don’t be intimidated by the cardamom syrup. It’s easy to make and tastes great on the savory-sweet salad.

Serves 4

For the syrup:
½ cup Lillet Blanc
½ cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon crushed cardamom pods

For the croutons:
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ loaf sourdough bread, cut into ½-inch cubes (4 cups)
Coarse salt

For the salad:
2 cups frisée
1 pound fresh salted mozzarella cheese, sliced ¼-inch thick
2 mangoes, peeled, pitted and sliced
¼-inch thick
¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup blackberries (2 ounces)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

To prepare the syrup:
Bring Lillet, vinegar and honey to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and add cardamom pods. Let stand, covered, until completely cooled. Strain syrup through a fine sieve; discard solids.

To prepare the croutons:
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it reaches 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Fry bread, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 4 minutes; transfer to paper towel-lined plates using a slotted spoon. Let croutons drain. Sprinkle with salt.

To prepare the salad:
Divide frisée evenly among 4 plates. Top with half the cheese, then half the mangoes. Repeat with remaining cheese and mango. Layer onion, blackberries and croutons on top. Drizzle ¼ cup cardamom syrup over tops, allowing it to pool at the bottom. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Living

Melon Berry and Feta Salad


Louis uses whatever melon looks best at the market, and she sometimes swaps out the feta for ricotta salata, or the chives for mint. 

Serves 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon minced preserved lemon peel or lemon zest
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and Freshly ground pepper
½ green melon (about 1¼ pounds), halved, cut into wedges, peeled and thinly sliced
½ orange or yellow melon (about 1¼ pounds), halved, cut into wedges, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup blackberries
2 ounces feta cheese, cut into thin slices
2 tablespoons snipped chives

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, shallot, preserved lemon and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the melon slices and blackberries on a platter. Drizzle the dressing over the fruit. Garnish the salad with the feta and snipped chives and serve.

Suggested pairing: Delicate, berry-scented Rosé Champagne: NV Gatinois Brut Rosé

Recipe by Jenn Louis (published in Food & Wine, July 2012)

Blackberry Balsamic Glazed Chicken


Serves 4–6

For the marinade:
2 cups blackberries, mashed
1 cup olive oil
½ cup balsamic vinegar
A few shakes of hot sauce (your choice)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons steak seasoning
6 chicken breasts, about 3 pounds total

For the glaze:
½ cup cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ cup sugar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup blackberries

In a medium bowl, mash the 2 cups of blackberries. Place in a large Ziploc bag, along with the olive oil, ½ cup balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, 2 tablespoons white sugar, and steak seasoning. Add the chicken and shake it up so everything gets all mixed together. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to 24. Turn every couple of hours. Heat grill to medium heat. If your chicken breasts are very thick, use a rolling pin or meat mallet to pound them down a bit. They will cook more evenly that way.

Prepare the glaze: In a small saucepan combine cold water and cornstarch with a whisk. Turn the heat to medium. Add ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, and 1 cup blackberries. Mash the berries. Stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. Set over low heat and stir occasionally to keep warm while you cook the chicken. Grill the chicken for 3–5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2–4 minutes. Use a meat thermometer for best results. Serve the hot chicken with the warm glaze spooned over the top.

Recipe by The Food Charlatan

Blackberry Muffins


Makes about 18 muffins

2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon milk
1 cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) warm melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups (about 5–6 ounces) of blackberries, fresh or frozen (if using fresh berries, cut them in half; if using frozen berries, defrost first, drain excess liquid, then coat them lightly in flour)

Position rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a standard 12-muffin pan or line with paper muffin cups. (You will probably have excess batter for another 4–6 muffins.)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, milk, sugar, butter and vanilla. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, and mix together with a few light strokes, just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the berries. Do not over-mix! Over-mixing will cause the muffins to be dense, not fluffy. The batter should not be smooth, but rather lumpy.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake at 400 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the middle of 1 or 2 of the muffins comes out clean, 17–20 minutes (or longer). Let cool for 2–3 minutes before removing from the pan. If not serving hot, let cool on a rack. Serve as soon as possible, preferably within a few hours of baking.

Recipe from Elise Bauer, Simply Recipes 

Sun-Sational Cheesecake


For the crust:
1+ cup graham crackers (crushed)
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter (melted)

Combine crumbs, sugar and butter for crust and press into bottom of springform pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and increase temperature to 450 degrees.

For the cake:
3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
½ teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs (1 separated, yolk reserved)

Combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, lemon juice, rind and vanilla. Mix at medium speed until well blended. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in remaining egg white. Save egg yolk for glaze. Pour mixture over crust. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, watching the top for browning. Reduce oven to 250 degrees and continue to bake for 30 more minutes. Let cake cool. Go around edge with a sharp knife, loosening cake from rim.

For the glaze:
1 egg yolk (reserved)
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice

Combine sugar and cornstarch in saucepan, stirring in water and lemon juice. Cook until clear and thickened. Add a small amount to egg yolk, temper, and mix well. Add to hot mixture, cooking for 3 minutes. Cool slightly and spoon over cake.

Recipe from The Complete Cheese Cookbook

NOTE…Use a 7, 8 or 9-inch springform pan, depending on how thick you prefer your cake. Place a Pyrex dish filled with water in the oven while the cake is baking, which helps prevent it from cracking.

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