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Post Info TOPIC: Home Plates: Blackberry goodness‎


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Home Plates: Blackberry goodness‎

The blackberries aren't going to be ripe.

Soon, we'll be setting up camp in a rustic cabin on a lake south of Yosemite, and I've been going over the checklist in my mind: Stop for groceries. Don't forget the marshmallows, Hershey's bars and graham crackers. Make beds. Unfold the chairs on the front lawn. Then grab a basket and see if the deer have left any blackberries.

But I just realized that we've never been to the cabin this early in the summer. The blackberry patches just a couple of strides away most likely are still white blooms and hard green berries. Sigh.

I suppose we will have to settle for store-bought berries, which are perfectly plump and sanitary and don't seem to have the thorny bits and creepy-crawlies we occasionally find in hand-picked berries. Quite simply, there is nothing like a wild blackberry -- but any blackberry tastes like summer. Whether you plunder a wild patch, visit a pick-your-own farm or stop by the store, blackberries make wonderfully tart and juicy crisps and cobblers.

When Stella Findley asked for her favorite blackberry crisp recipe, a couple of Plates readers offered help. Neither version sounds quite like the crisp Findley wants; she remembers a rolled oats topping with canola oil instead of butter, and orange zest mixed with the blackberries. Still, I plan to try both. I've always used a rolled oats topping for crisps, but these recipes offer a chance to try something new.

Jahnke sent the simple blackberry crisp recipe she found in a newsletter from Webb Ranch, the Portola Valley family farm, market and U-pick operation. Simple is right. Toss blackberries with sugar, lemon zest and a little flour for thickener, then top with a sheet of thawed puff pastry before baking.
Graci Noblez, of San Jose, makes fruit crisps with a crumbled graham cracker topping. She uses all sorts of fruit, including sliced pears, peaches, canned apricots, Trader Joe's bags of mixed berries and even Oregon-brand canned blackberries. She prefers quick-style tapioca, rather than flour, as a thickener.
I searched online and found a similar recipe from the Washington Post. That recipe calls for eight ounces each of defrosted frozen blueberries and strawberries, but I'm sure you can substitute fresh berries of almost any sort and adjust the sugar accordingly. This recipe is lightened up a bit, with just a third of a cup of sugar tossed with the berries and only two tablespoons of butter in the topping. This crisp uses cornstarch for a thickener, but you could try tapioca.
The crisps taste best with a dollop of cream, ice cream or yogurt -- and I like nothing better than a dish of tart yogurt with a little leftover crisp for breakfast.

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