Ever notice how some years we seem to have a great abundance of a certain fruit when other fruits seem to totter along? This year, blueberries were small and ripened early, almost too early, and since my poor peach trees struggled with drought and brown rot this year, I expect to eat very few. But the blackberries are super abundant, at least here at my house and apparently at other places as well, according to reports from berry-loving friends.
A small open spot under the brow of a hill abounds with rampant blackberry bushes. My niece Sarah girds herself with heavy canvas overalls, tall boots, tunes into a podcast, and wades into the prickly mass of bushes and comes out with a gallon or two at a time. We’ve frozen a big bunch of them and I have plans for various blackberry treats from jam to shrub to sorbet all of which I can make from the frozen berries.
You’ll need a berry puree to make the blackberry fool recipe that follows. This is when my trusty old Foley Food Mill comes in handy. I run the berries through to remove the largest seeds because blackberries are nothing if not seedy. It might be the berries nearest you are more seed than fruit: it depends on how moist the soil is where they grow. Ours are pretty fruity, thank goodness. You might find you can mash your berries through a sieve with the back of a spoon or strong spatula. Some seeds go right through anyway; part of the charm of blackberries, I guess.
Once you have a puree, the rest of the dessert is a snap. Sweeten the puree to taste, add a wee drop of vanilla or almond extract if you want, whip up cream and fold the puree into it.
You have a lot of latitude in a berry fool: add as much puree up to equal amounts of whipped cream and berry or a little less. Sweeten to taste. Season it lightly with a little ground cinnamon or cardamom. Garnish with more berries. Remember how you made it and try the technique with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and other mashable fruit.
Blackberry fool is pretty in pink; rich, creamy and satisfying, and a charming late summer treat.
P.S. Reuseable bags: So many communities went out of their way to eliminate single-use plastic grocery bags. So many of us have grown accustomed to bringing our own bags to the store to take our groceries home in. With coronavirus, many stores have disallowed reusable bags and instead send us off with the dreaded plastic bags or if we ask for it, paper. For my entire adult life, I have taken my own reusable bags to the store and I’m not going to change now. I’ve discovered that in fact, most cashiers and baggers will cheerfully pile all your groceries back into your cart so you can wheel it to your car and bag everything there in your own bags!
Yields 4-6 servings
3-4 cups blackberries
Sugar to taste
Vanilla or almond extract to taste, optional
2 cups whipping cream
Puree the berries by running them through a food mill or mashing them through a sieve into a bowl.
Add sugar to the puree to taste and a half teaspoon of extract if desired.
Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks.
Add the puree gradually, folding it in until it is all used up.
Chill for at least an hour in one large bowl, or spooned into dessert dishes, before serving.