All right, enough of this sadness.
It is wild blackberry season here in Oregon. We have enough each year that Oregon law decrees that every man, woman, and child alive be allotted sunny buckets full of the little purple monsters as remuneration for all those months of rain. Keep in mind, though, that it’s been blackberry season since early July, when we get the first commercial crop of Sylvans. We’ve eaten our weight in blackberries.
When we get bored eating blackberries by the handful, we make pie.
I know how to make blackberry pie filling that can be canned, and sometimes I do that. But the best pie is with fresh blackberries held together with just a bit of cooked blackberry goop.
I’ve messed around with my blackberry pie recipe, which I found on a now-defunct blogger’s site, for several years. It’s unique enough now that I consider it my own. I published a slightly different version last year in an article for the Register-Guard on blackberries. The main components to keep in mind are the liquid, sugar, and chilling. Use less sugar and less water if your blackberries are late-season, big, plump, ripe berries. If they are more tart and smaller berries, use more sugar and more water. The version below should work well with our wild blackberries.
As for the chilling, this pie works best if you’re patient, and I understand that it is incredibly difficult. Three things need to be cooled — the pie crust, the berry sauce, and the finished pie. This will help keep the pie from turning to berry juice. If you do have a berry juice situation when you slice it, just spoon it off or soak it up with a paper towel. No one, I mean no one, will care.
Last time I made this pie, I made it with Chester blackberries and served it ice cold on a pool of cream.
Fresh Blackberry Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie.
- 6 cups best-quality blackberries (about 1/2 a flat with shallow half-pint containers)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons Clear Jel (a modified food starch that doesn’t break down after time, like corn starch does; substitute corn starch for less satisfactory results)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 prebaked and cooled pie shell
Prebake and cool a 9-inch pie crust using your favorite recipe. (I’ve been using a version of Orangette’s apricot tart crust here, but blindbaking it and chilling it.) Frozen pie crusts will have directions for how to prebake them.
In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups of berries and water. Mash berries well. Heat until boiling on medium high heat. In a small bowl, mix Clear Gel and sugar. When berries are boiling, add sugar mixture to berries, stirring constantly for one minute to set the starch and thicken the juice. When thick, remove from heat and cool to room temperature (crucial).
As the sauce is cooling, distribute the remaining 4½ cups of berries in cooled pie shell.
Pour sauce over top of berries and stir gently to combine with sauce, trying not to break berries. Chill well, at least an hour before serving.
Slice with sharp knife and use pie server to aid transfer of servings, as the pie will be looser than pies made with cooked fruit. Top with whipped cream (optional).