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If reasons were as plentiful as blackberries,
I would give no man a reason upon compulsion.
~Shakespeare, Henry IV
A couple of years ago I was reading a post by one of my favorite homesteaders, Quinn at Reformation Acres, where she mentioned in passing she was excited that her new property (in Ohio) had a blackberry patch because she had never before eaten one in her whole life. I was floored. I guess the rest of the country is not inundated with invasive wild blackberries like we are here in western Oregon? Other cities do not rent goats to clear acres of them? People actually plant blackberry patches? The Willamette Valley has perfect growing conditions for cane berries, and while the himalayan blackberry is a true problem and will absolutely take over anywhere it gets a hold, many other varieties are cultivated and grown on purpose right here as well.
Prior to moving to our farm, each August I would pick my fill of wild blackberries in my top-secret spot in a beautiful cemetery. But here at Good Gifts Farm I inherited a 30-foot row of marionberries and a 10-foot row of boysenberries and they give me more than I can use, so I have ceased that tradition. 
What is a marionberry? 
The marionberry was created in 1956 at Oregon State University by crossing a chehalem blackberry with an olallie blackberry. It was tested extensively here in Marion County, which is how it received its name.  They are much longer than a traditional blackberry and are known as the “cabernet of blackberries” for their rich earthy flavor. Marionberries are my personal favorite fruit. Oregon produces over 30 million pounds of marionberries annually. They are high in ellagic acid, gallic acid, rutin, anthocyanin (all known cancer-fighters), antioxidants (more than blueberries!), and vitamin C.
All we do here on our property to successfully grow marionberries is prune them each winter and we are rewarded with 100+ pounds of berries. Consequently I have a dream of planting our lower pasture with marionberries and running a u-pick stand out of the lower barn. We have room for parking and it’s right along the road. It would be perfect. I think perhaps when you share a dream on the internet it is more likely to come true. Here’s to hoping.
Future u-pick marionberries and farm-stand?
What is a boysenberry?
The parentage of the boysenberry is a cross between a loganberry, blackberry, and red raspberry. They were originally cultivated in the 30s by Rudolph Boysen who gave them to Walter Knott (of Knott’s Berry Farm fame) to care for and grow. Boysenberries are huge, reddish-purple berries that do not transport or store well, but are juicy and spectacularly delicious. In the 50s, California grew 2,400 acres but that number is down to less than 70 now. Oregon is the largest producer with 600 acres. And I have my very own 10-foot row. I treasure those bowls I collect each July.
When four boysenberries are all you can hold
Boysenberries are high in vitamin C and fiber, with antioxidants almost twice that of blueberries. They also contain ellagic acid and anthocyanin. 
What are my favorite things to do with all these glorious purple berries?
We freeze gallons and gallons of them for smoothies and baking through out the year.
One of our favorite ways to use frozen berries is in Sandi Rose’s Blackberry Crumb Cake. It is a fabulous brunch recipe! My only tip is to not use an 8×8 pan – that thing will NEVER get done in the middle. Use an 11×7 pan. My favorite cobbler is this Mixed-Fruit Cobbler, except I don’t mix fruit. I use all marionberries because that’s what I have, and it’s fantastic. I also 1 1/2 the cobbler topping, because you can never have too much cobbler topping.
I can several types of jam each summer, but the only one that everyone in my family wants to eat always, no matter what, is the Old-Fashioned Berry Jam from the 2006 Ball Book of Complete Preserving, pg 22. It has a fairly high fruit-to-sugar ratio (always important to me) and is not overly seedy. I have decided to almost exclusively make this jam from now on. 
This year I also did the Choose-a-Berry Preserves from Ball Book, page 62, and used my boysenberries.
Boysenberry Preserves
I make and can Blackberry Syrup. We love having it on waffles or french toast in the dead of winter – a little slice of summer on a snowy Sunday. Often I will cut it with half pure-maple-syrup and it is amazing! 
A really helpful resource is oregon-berries.com. They have information on all the varietals of Oregon berries and many, many recipes I am excited to try. 
Boysenberry, Marionberry, and Himalayan Blackberry
These berries are interchangeable in all recipes, and to be honest, I love them all. Blackberry-tasting is kind of like wine-tasting. There are subtleties and nuances to the flavors, but at the end of the day, it’s all good. And the silver lining to those pesky, invasive himalayan blackberries is that anyone can park on the side of the road and pick their fill for free. So stock your pantry, stock your freezer, and enjoy the fruit of an Oregon summer long after the rain settles in.

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