I finally figured out what is wrong with blackberries. Seeds!
The berries are in excellent form this summer thanks to the man who loves to bush hog with his Bad Boy lawnmower. Combine a post-rain sunny day with some bug spray and a bucket and the berry picking is great. We can walk right up to the brambles and have a good quart picked in fifteen minutes. A few chiggers are had, but the patch is better cleared than in the past. I’ve got blackberry picking/eaten-alive horror stories that almost made me hang up my bucket for good, but Farmer Joe has improved the berry experience in every way! A wide path and not wading through poison ivy and ticks equals a pleasurable afternoon of picking.
It’s been the seeds all along that turn me off from blackberries. Last year I made jam with half juice, half berry because I wanted less seed. This year, I sieve it all without apology! Why ruin the flavor by leaving the seeds? Blackberries are tart and sweet and rich but not aromatic and flowery, like elderberries. They make the perfect syrup or sauce because they naturally have a good deal of pectin, and their seeds are large enough to sieve easily (unlike strawberries and blueberries).
To make syrup, add 5-6 cups berries berries to saucepan with a couple teaspoons of sugar (to help release juice). Mash and strain berries. Add juice back to pan and add 1/3 cup sugar. Stir and cook on medium heat until mixture is reduced to a syrup that covers the back of a spoon. We drizzle this on sliced fruit, yogurt, biscuits, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, ice cream, etc. We mix it in with bubbly drinks and I’ve even put it in a vinaigrette for salad.
I haven’t even gotten around to making jams or jellies because we are guzzling the stuff. But I did make a swirl cheesecake from Sally’s Baking Addiction that has a bit of a different approach to the sauce (read:cornstarch and lemon juice). Sauce so delicious you’ll want to eat it by the spoonful! Just taste as you go and add sugar as needed since blackberries are more tart than blueberries.