LOVING BLACKBERRIES THIS YEAR
I hope you caught my previous article from our AN APPLE A DAY section about the blackberry being the healthiest, most nutritious fruit on earth. If you missed it; you may review it here: https://theinseasonlifestyle.com/best-fruit-blackberry/.
Since the day I wrote that article I’ve done a little more research on the blackberry farms in Alabama. There are so many good ones to choose from. I was shocked. Here are a few of my favorite choices for picking berries whenever you happen to find yourself down south:
Located at 6582 Clay County Road 7, Talladega, Alabama 35160 256-404-4316 is located in the foothills of the Talladega National Forest in scenic east central Alabama. The scenery along the way would be worth the ride. It is on my bucket list to drive out to this farm and see this U-Pick-Em berry, fruit and vegetables that they sell. Maybe I can take my granddaughter with me. They sell berries that you can go out into the fields and pick yourself which are organic (fertilizer and pesticide free) and/or you can buy them to go at their fruit shed. They also operate a vineyard and you can pick the makings for your favorite wines too. They seem to be open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday afternoons after 1 p.m. during this Fall Season. I would advise calling ahead to make sure. Their website can be found here: https://holmesteadfarm.com/. Be sure to check out the recipes!
LYON BLUEBERRY FARM
Located at 1700 County Road 56, Wilsonville, Alabama. 205-864-5701 Open Wednesday – Saturday from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. They give you a bucket and let you fill it up! It is just that simple! Their website is: http://lyonblueberry.blogspot.com/.
MOUNTAIN MEADOWS FARM
Located at 1824 Highway 30, Columbiana, AL 35051 205-260-3124 They grow their blackberries on trellises which make them much easier to pick. Not so many briars! They have three different varieties of blackberries to choose from. Their hours are Monday – Wednesday 7 a.m. – 12 noon, Saturday 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. and Sunday 1 – 6 p.m. The hours seem to change with the seasons so call ahead before you come. These guys also sell their berries at Pepper Place, Lee Branch Farmer’s Market and Chelsea Farmer’s Market as well as some Piggly Wiggly’s and Organic Harvest stores in Alabama. Their website is: http://mountainmeadowsfarmal.com/hours-schedule/.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE BLACKBERRY RECIPES
Of course you will need recipes for all those berries! Here are a few of my favorites:
BLACKBERRY AND BRAN MUFFINS
(Note to the cook: This recipe makes a dozen muffins and they can be frozen to use later. So I always double and make two batches.)
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
½ cup olive oil
1 stick butter, melted
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
¾ cup sugar
2 cups bran cereal
1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries for muffins
12 large fresh blackberries for garnishing muffin tops
1 cup pecan halves, optional (Used with the garnish)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, olive oil, melted butter, baking soda, vanilla extract, lemon zest and sugar. Stir in the bran cereal and both flours and mix well until thoroughly combined. The batter should be pretty stiff. Wash the blackberries and while still damp roll them in all-purpose flour. Carefully fold the blackberries into the mix. Stir easy so as not to destroy the berries. Prepare 12 standard sized muffin sleeves in a muffin tin and fill each to the very top with batter. If you are going to garnish; crunch up the pecans into pieces. Scatter the tops of the muffins with the pecan pieces. Insert one plump, juicy blackberry into the very top portion of each muffin letting the garnish berry peek out from the muffin tops. Bake for 35 minutes; or until the tops are firm and slightly brown. Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from muffin tins. Serve warm or cover and store at room temperature for up to 3 days, or wrap individually and freeze in gallon bags with dates on the outside for up to 3 months.
BLACKBERRY COMPOTE OVER GOAT CHEESE ROUNDS
1 lb. fresh blackberries
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon minced fresh thyme
4 ounces goat cheese
Cook blackberries and sugar over medium high heat in a skillet, stirring occasionally for about four minutes. Sprinkle in the balsamic vinegar and thyme. Cook 1 minute more. Set aside. Slice goat cheese into rounds and top with warm compote. (This is good cold or hot and can be served from a small mason jar that will keep in the refrigerator with the lid screwed into place.)
ITALIAN FRUIT SALAD
4 cups seedless watermelon, cut into cubes
3 cups seedless green grapes sliced into halves
2 cups fresh blackberries
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil leaves
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
Combine watermelon, grapes, blackberries and basil into a large bowl. Prepare the dressing in another small bowl by whisking together the vinegar and honey and pouring all over the fruit. Toss with salad forks until well coated. Chill before serving.
BLACKBERRY GRAPEFRUIT TOASTED HAZELNUT SALAD
2 cups fresh blackberries
2 pink grapefruits
½ small red onion, thinly sliced, divided
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces baby kale leaves
1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
Peel and segment grapefruit and place in a large bowl. Pour in blackberries and toss together slightly. In another large bowl, mix together lemon juice, yogurt, oil, salt and pepper. Whisk until well mixed. Toss in baby kale. Top with remaining onion, grapefruit and blackberries. Toss slightly and top with toasted hazelnuts.
Have fun with your berry picking! Send me some samples!!!!