For as long as I can remember my Grandpa Otis would put on his Levis and long sleeved shirt, in the heat of the summer, and head out to pick blackberries. I can also remember when I was very young on the back porch of their farmhouse, there would be milk buckets sitting there full of blackberries. Yes, he liked eating blackberries, but more that, as odd as it may sound if you have ever been blackberry picking, he loved picking berries. He and his brother Art were the two most prolific blackberry pickers I ever saw. Now I’m just the opposite, I love to eat them, but don’t like picking them.
My first true blackberry experience happened in the early 1970’s while I was in high school. Grandpa invited me to go pick berries with him and Uncle Art, down east of Vinita one Saturday morning on a ranch that was once owned by my grandmother’s brother. Uncle Lee’s ranch was where the REC building sits now, out east of the town of Vinita, it ran back west toward town, and south over the hill. I can’t remember what time we headed out that morning, but we picked berries most of the day, and I made my mind up after that excursion, I was never going blackberry picking again. I didn’t for nearly 45 years after that. Those guys wore me out. But like I stated earlier, they liked to pick blackberries, pecans and about anything else you could pick and eat. Grandpa has been gone for nearly 20 years now, but he kept picking right up until the time he died. In fact, the last few years of his life, he got into picking blueberries as well.
A few years ago, I planted some tame blackberry bushes along the back fence of my yard, where I could pick berries without stickers, chiggers and snakes. That only lasted a few short years as about the time the berries would become ripe, they would disappear before I could get them picked. The only thing I could figure was the birds were getting them, those that fly and possibly those walking down my ally too? So I figured after that, that if I wanted blackberries I would just buy them going forward. The only problem with that was, the berries you buy at the grocery store are kind of like the tomatoes you buy at the store, just a little bit better than not having any at all. Then, my youngest daughter told me that some land they had purchased, had blackberry vines that were loaded, that my son-in-law had mowed right up to the edge of the bushes, and best yet, less than 5 minutes from my house. So I decided, you couldn’t beat a deal like that, and headed out to pick berries. The best thing was, I could just go pick for 30 minutes or less, and have enough berries to use for a cobbler, dumplings, or to go with ice cream.
One particular day recently, I went to pick, and there was plenty of “low hanging fruit” so to speak, so I picked more than I normally would have that day, brought them home and wondered what I was going to prepare with them. That was when I stumbled on to an unusual cobbler recipe that was kind of a cross between blackberry dumplings and blackberry cobbler. So I thought what the heck, I’ll give it a try and it turned out fabulous. So I’m sharing that recipe I found, and urge you to give it a try as well, as I believe you will also find it very scrumptious.
Old South Blackberry Cobbler
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup ice water
For the cobbler:
3 cups blackberries cleaned (about 24-ounces)
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups water
For the cobbler crust:
Chill mixing bowl and pastry cutter in freezer for about 15 minutes prior to making crust.
Then, cut 12 tablespoons butter into flour with pastry cutter.
Slowly incorporate ice water just until dough begins to form.
Pour dough onto parchment paper, divide and quickly work into two flat discs.
Wrap tightly and place in freezer to chill prior to using.
For the Cobbler:
Combine berries, sugar, 6 tablespoons butter, and water in heavy bottomed pan.
Bring to boil over medium heat and cook for 20 minutes. Berries will be soft when pressed against the side of the pan with a spoon. The blackberry mixture will also begin to thicken and become syrupy.
Preheat oven to 425º F.
Remove pastry for cobbler crust from the freezer and roll.
Cut 1/2" strips in both portions of the dough.
In one half of the dough, cut strips again to form individual pieces for dumplings.
Drop into boiling blackberries and occasionally stir gently to make sure all dumplings are cooked, about 7 minutes.
Remove cobbler pan from heat and place second half of the dough in a lattice pattern on top of the blackberries.
Place pieces of butter on top of lattice crust and sprinkle with sugar.
Place into oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.
Remove from oven and allow cooling for at least 10 minutes before serving.