One Ingredient, Many Ways: Blackberries

By Leah Koenig

Published on August 28, 2013

Late summer just might be the most glorious time of the year. The long-punishing heat of July and August begins to subside, and for a brief moment, summer's abundance of corn, tomatoes, and peaches overlaps with the tart, crunchy apples and sweet gourds of early autumn. Fittingly, late summer is also when blackberries peak—the last, triumphant burst in the season's riotous parade of fruit.

With their glossy blue-black color and astringent, yet surprisingly sweet flavor, blackberries are a fleeting pleasure—compelling enough to have inspired these lines by Nobel Prize-winning poet, Seamus Heany, in the poem Blackberry-Picking:

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. [...]

When blackberries do come into season, I waste no time in putting them to use. Typically I follow the sweet route, baking them into cobblers and pies, or smashing them into fizzy cocktails. But inspired by the Pacific Northwest, where brambles of blackberries hang especially heavy with the fruit around this time of year, I've been pairing them with another regional ingredient: salmon. Smoky and tender from the grill, I top the fish with a sauce of smashed berries simmered with ginger and red wine; the wine lends a tannic quality that perfectly offsets the berries' late summer sweetness.

Grilled Salmon with Blackberry Sauce
Grilled Salmon with Blackberry Sauce

A rich, sweet-tart blackberry sauce adorns crispy skin-on salmon filets in this easy dish from Leah Koenig, who developed it for our One Ingredient, Many Ways series.


Blackberry and Apple Cake
Late summer meets early fall in an English-inspired sponge cake topped with juicy fruit.

Razzleberry Pie
A double-crusted pie is sweetened with a mix of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

Rumtopf (Macerated Fruit Conserve)
This Bavarian dessert douses a mix of fruits (apples, cherries, blackberries, and currants) in a boozy mixture of sugared brandy.

Sweet Corn and Blackberry Ice Cream
Summer sweet corn makes a surprisingly delicious, creamy base for ice cream—especially when layered with blackberry sauce.

Lisa's Blackberry Cobbler
Blackberries and stone fruit make a perfect filling for fresh fruit cobbler topped with a thick layer of buttery streusel.

Summer Pudding
A dome of syrup-drenched white bread tops strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries in an unusual, elegant English dessert.


Blackberry Blast Cocktail
Fresh blackberries with rum, lime juice, and bitters combine in a delightful take on a frozen daiquiri.

Blackberry Rum Shrub
This Colonial-inspired drink mixes a blackberry and balsamic vinegar shrub syrup with rum and soda.

Atole de Mora Negra (Blackberry Masa Drink)
Cinnamon, blackberries, sugar, and masa haring (powdery corn flour) come together in a delightfully thick, warm, and fruity drink.

Leah Koenig is a freelance writer and cookbook author. Her forthcoming cookbook,_Modern Jewish Cooking, _will be published by Chronicle in 2015.

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