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Blackberries are one of my favorite aspects of summer. I love picking berries when the weather is nice, and I love eating them so much that I will pick them even when it is hot.
I started blackberry picking at a very young age. Sometimes my family had a patch in our garden, but when we did not, we hunted for wild blackberries along the sides of roads in our rural home in Georgia. I remember feeling a little like Laura Ingalls Wilder helping Pa provide for the family when I would pick blackberries with my daddy.
My mother’s mother loved blackberries, too, and would take us with her to pick them when she visited. She was not crazy about the seeds getting in her dentures, but she loved to eat blackberry cobbler.
My mama’s blackberry cobbler was more of a deep-dish pie. She used a deep glass-ceramic dish and made both a top and bottom crust. The crust was always crisp on top and tender underneath and soaked in blackberry juice. It is a favorite dessert in my family, and we were able to have it year round because we put so many berries in our freezer during the summer.
We froze many gallons of berries, but we also made many pints of jam each summer, too. Homemade blackberry jam was perfect with homemade buttermilk biscuits.
I have not made blackberry jam or blackberry cobbler in several years, but two years ago I experimented with another favorite dessert recipe – cherry crisp – and came up with blackberry crisp. It is much quicker than cobbler because no piecrust is involved (cobbler the way I make it, anyway). Since it uses oatmeal in the topping, I consider it healthier, too, although I have no proof of that claim.
Last year, my friend and I took our small children blackberry picking for the first time. We set out early for a u-pick blackberry and raspberry farm on Old Union Road. We found the farm to be kid friendly, with wide, grassy paths, and even small buckets for the kids to use while picking. We were even able to find a shaded spot for a picnic as the morning wore on.
Deanna’s Blackberry Crisp
3-4 cups blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, cold
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine blackberries, sugar, cinnamon and flour until blackberries are coated. Pour into the baking dish. (I used a glass casserole dish. We always used glass-ceramic dishes when I was growing up, and this is similar.)
For topping, combine all ingredients into mixing bowl. With your hands, combine the ingredients until the butter is well mixed.
Put topping over the blackberries. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until berries are bubbling and topping is the preferred level of doneness.