Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wild About Berries

I grew up in a time when people were not yet nostalgic about rural life; nonetheless, I was fortunate to live for a time in a rural area of the country.  Our house was on the edge of a small town, a few-minutes walk from farmland.  My brother, my best friend, and I often walked out there to the trestle.  Though I was too cowardly, my brother and friend often crossed the trestle and, if a train were coming, they'd have to stand on a small platform jutting out from the tracks and hanging precariously in thin air.  Their tiny perch rattled as the train thundered by.

Sometimes we ventured down below the trestle, where a creek ran through a cow-studded pasture.  We waded in the creek and caught snapping turtles and tadpoles.  What I remember most about that time and place are the delicious black raspberries we picked along the tracks.  We jumped from bush to bush, back and forth across the tracks, in pursuit of the plumpest, darkest ones.  The trestle and the train are gone now, but the berries still grow along the barren tracks.  The first pie I ever made, a lattice-topped black raspberry pie, was made from a bucket of these berries.

Black Raspberry Pie

2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup shortening
6 Tbsp. ice water
5 cups black raspberries*
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 425°.  Blend together 2 cups flour and salt.  Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture turns to coarse crumbs.  Add the water a tablespoon at a time, stirring with a fork after each addition.  Divide the dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other.  On a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll the larger bowl into a 10" circle.  Line a 9" pie plate with the pastry.

In another bowl mix together the berries, 1/4 cup flour and sugar.  Spread evenly in the pie shell.  Roll out the remaining dough ball and cut into 1/2" strips.  Place seven strips across the pie about an inch apart.  Weave seven cross strips through the first seven.  Press the ends of all the strips firmly down to seal.

Bake the pie at 425° for 20 minutes.  Turn the heat down to 350° and bake another 20 minutes.  Serve with a scoop of chocolate ice cream on top.

*If using red raspberries, increase the sugar to 3/4 cup.


  1. I miss those blackberry picking days! My sibs and I gorged every summer and we made pies, pies and more pies! Sadly, most of the places we picked, though still rural, don't have bushes anymore. Now that I live in the city, we've planted a service berry tree so my daughter can have that some berry picking experience - or at least as close as I can give her. She loves going out there in the morning and filling her cereal bowl. Thanks for a great memory to start the day. -T

  2. I will have to try this recipe. A good berry pie is unbeatable! Thanks!