Once upon a storybook there was a wily critter named Br’er Rabbit, a trickster who was as quick-minded as he was fleet-footed. His nemesis was Br’er Fox. Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Fox were always at odds. Finally, Br’er Fox caught Br’er Rabbit. Br’er Rabbit cried, “Oh please don’t throw me in that briar patch. Please. Please, don’t throw me in that briar patch.” And Br’er Fox, believing that being thrown in the briar patch was the one thing Br’er Rabbit really didn’t want, immediately threw him into the brambles. As rabbits are quite at home in briar patches, Br’er Rabbit leaped away, laughing up his lucky foot. Presumably, he snatched a few blackberries on his way.
Those of us old enough will remember indolent summers before commonplace air conditioning, will also remember when heat was visible as it rose shimmering off two-lane blacktop roads. If you saw a few humpbacked cars pulled over on one of those rural roads, you might also see whole families battling briars and brambles opportunistically picking berries, filling every container they could find inside of those enormous old cars or jury-rig from their clothing. Boys cupped the front tails of their shirts, men used their hats, and women used everything from dishtowels to beach sand buckets scavenged from the trunks. Scrambling around for a bucket of some sort, you pulled over to join them enthusiastically. Carefully, one or two berries at a time were plucked from their cane by thorn torn fingers and gently carried home for once a summer desserts that usually included cream.
Blackberries have been a summer treat since the Etruscans ruled central Italy. These berries are native to Europe, Asia and North and South America. Throughout Europe and North America blackberry brambles were frequently planted as an effective natural barrier against animal and human marauders. Except, of course, for Br’er Rabbit, who was born and bred in a briar patch.
Since blackberries are red before they are ripe, one could ask what the actual difference is between raspberries and blackberries. Well, other than the ripened color, the answer is simply that the berry stem of the blackberry comes away with the berry when picked. The raspberry, on the other hand, leaves its stem on the cane.
The real news is that these gorgeous fat berries are now available in the market. In talking with one of our market bakers, Barbara Gugnoni of Troy Brook Bakery, she mentioned that she thought that sweet blackberries went especially well with the crisp tartness of lime. Next thing you know, she was providing lime flavored biscuits for the lovely Blackberry Shortcake, that is today’s recipe. She has kindly provided her recipe. However, she is equally happy to provide her wonderfully light biscuits themselves, which is a whole lot easier. Don’t forget to check the web site for other blackberry recipes including: Blackberry and Red Wine Gelatin, Blackberry Panna Cotta and Blackberry-Blueberry Pie. They are all berry, berry good.