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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Blackberries up the Road

They were much better than last year, and I credit the rain. They're still well protected by two-foot-high fire ant hills and lots of poison ivy, but one morning recently after the bug left for daycare I decided to go all out and get as many as I could. I put on long pants, high boots, gloves (which ended up being too unwieldy for handling the delicate, very ripe berries), and a long-sleeved shirt. I went early enough that it wasn't too hot. I brought a long pole with a hook on the end, thinking that I'd use it to pull vines toward me, but it was more useful for shoving them out of my way and for tamping down the brambles so I could step over or onto them—the hook just made that more difficult. I took a lot of risks—jumping over ant hills and into the thick of the brambles—and at one point, surrounded by ant hills and stuck to the thorns on all sides, it occurred to me that if I lost my balance and fell the cicadas and doves would be the last sounds I heard. I worked fast, and checked my picking hand for ants every few seconds. Usually I come home with three or four painful bites and a handful of berries, but this time I had no bites and about six cups of berries! I probably dropped enough for a pie, and left enough for four. I found a back way in, though, so if we're still here next year it'll be a piece of cake. I also found the muscadines, which are behind the ant hills, through the poison ivy, and on the wrong side of the blackberry bramble—but they're there, and when they're ripe I intend to pick them.

I picked the bug up early from daycare, and we made blackberry frozen yogurt from my mom's old recipe. She used to make it every July in Georgia and Virginia. Next time I'll strain out the seeds. (I like the seeds, but others don't.)
Blackberry Frozen Yogurt

4 cups blackberries
2¼ cups sugar
3 large eggs, separated
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 quarts plain yogurt

Put the blackberries and 2 cups of the sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the berries are broken down a bit.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks. Stir in ½ cup of the blackberry mixture, then stir in the remaining blackberry mixture, the lemon juice, and vanilla. Set the bowl in another bowl of ice water and let cool to room temperature, stirring frequently. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add the remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt, then fold in the blackberry mixture, then fold the yogurt mixture into the egg whites.

Freeze in an ice cream maker until it's the consistency of runny soft-serve ice cream, then transfer to the freezer until completely frozen.


Courtney said...

Wow, that's some *serious* commitment to gathering berries. I'm glad you made it out safely! The yogurt looks worth it.

Also, sorry to hear about your computer headache. After my break in and almost-stolen-laptop scare, I bought an external hard drive. My beau set it up to back up once a week, so in theory it should be great, but I haven't quite gotten a system down, so can't say yet if I would recommend it. I do like Flickr. I save at lower quality but it's good for blogs and such. There's a Flickr uploading tool you can get that makes it a lot easier--just drag images over.

Foodscaper said...

g'day Liana! This is Linna, from your old Purcellville house! I saw your comment and it made me smile. I then checked out your blog and I see we have similar interests! I just harvested tons of blackberries and I think I need to make your frozen yogurt, sounds yum. Anyhow, I love the property as well and am very sad about the asparagus - your mum had such amazing stories to tell about buckets of asparagus. So thanks for writing and let me know how the building of your oven goes. Also if you find a good resource for recipes.....I couldn't find many on the internet.

Also, tell me how your chicken tractor goes- that totally is my next project! Was it really EASY? You can email me at