Friday, June 11, 2010

Folklife Fridays: Dewberry Pie

I have always loved them.

One of my earliest memories is walking with my mom and siblings along the road, looking for dewberries along the sides. My mom always tried to collect enough for a cobbler, and we didn't help a lot because we ate the ones we found instantly.

Dewberries are a lot like blackberries, except they grow on brambles, or wandering briers, instead of being upright. They are more tart that blackberries, and actually taste more like raspberries. They are common all over the country, but you have to be persistent to find them. I have never found enough at one time to make jelly or jam.

The plants begin to bloom in mid-to-late April here, and that's the best time to look for them, their white blossoms easily identifiable. The blossoms develop into tiny green berries, which turn to red as the grow, and finally turn to black when they are mature.

You have to really want dewberries to go to the trouble to get them. The brambles are covered with stickers, and are usually located at inconvenient places. Exhaust toxins and other nasties prevent me from eating anything from the roadside now. The best place I have found for dewberries is construction sites that have been undisturbed for at least a year.

I spotted some blooms in April on one of my many wanderings, and I have been watching them since. Unfortunately, many birds love them as much as I do, and they usually get the bulk of them while I am occupied elsewhere.

Yesterday morning, in a humid mist, while most of you were still asleep, I started out with my walking stick and a Ziplop bag. My hiking shoes are now covered with red mud, but I found almost three cups of the ripe berries!

The dewberries are fragile, and must be treated gently. Wash them in a colander, removing any husks or multi-legged creatures.

For three cups of berries, I added a heaping cup of sugar.

Add enough water to cover the berries and sugar.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until the water is a dark, thick syrup.

Make a batter of 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, and 3/4 cup milk.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
Melt a stick of butter in a 9" x 13" pan.

DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT USING ANYTHING EXCEPT REAL BUTTER! If you can't eat butter, make some gelatin and put the berries on top.

When the butter is melted, add the batter.

Cover the batter with the even looks yummy raw!

Bake about thirty minutes, and just look! So sorry you can't smell it!

Serve it while it is warm enough to melt some ice cream.

My vocabulary is limited here. There is no way I can describe the mouth-watering bliss of butter, sugar, and sun-ripened dewberries!

Dewberries may be a reminder from God that the best things in life are free, but you have to be willing to search from them.

And, sometimes, get your shoes muddy.

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High. Psalm 92:1