Thursday, May 07, 2009

Dewberry cobbler is your reward

Picking dewberries is a wonderful warm-day pastime. When I was young, my friends and I would march out to the wilder parts of my suburban Houston neighborhood—such as the bayou, vacant lots or the rough patch next to the golf course—and brave water moccasins, thorns and poison ivy to score some of these black orbs, warm from the sun and ready to pop in your mouth.

Usually, we’d eat them straight from the bush, smearing our t-shirts and shorts with the dark, sticky juice. But sometimes we’d be more organized and bring a container so we could pick them and then take them home to our parents so they could make dewberry cobbler for dessert.


Spending plenty of time on a farm, I know that when you venture into a bramble you need to wear strong boots filled with sulfur to keep those chiggers at bay. But what was cool at the farm was not cool in Houston, and so we’d usually be wearing at best tennis shoes and at worst flip flops as we made our way through the berry patch. Needless to say, you can get scuffed up something ugly after a bout of picking dewberries if you’re not properly clothed. But no matter—the joy of finding food in the wild mitigated any cosmetic damage done to our legs.

Between my mom’s organic garden in the backyard and my family’s farms, I had plenty of experience with food coming out of the ground. But there was something special about dewberries. Perhaps it was because we suffered greatly to get to them. Or perhaps it was because there were never any grown-ups involved in our foraging adventures. Or perhaps it was just because this wild food tasted so darn good.

Some argue that blackberries and dewberries are one and the same. I don’t know the answer to this. And sadly, I haven’t seen dewberries growing in any New York City vacant lots or in Central Park (though if there are dewberries here, please let me know!) so I can’t do an immediate taste comparison. But we do have blackberries and they are a decent substitute for dewberries.



I like to make a cobbler with my berries, though they could also be made into jam, juice or tarts.
What do you make with yours?

And don’t get me wrong—a blackberry cobbler is nothing to sniff at. But I know that it would taste even better if I had made it with berries I had picked myself, berries still glistening with the morning’s mist that gives the berry its proper name—dewberry.

Dewberry Cobbler
Crust ingredients:
1/2 stick of butter (2 oz.)
1 cup of flour (6 oz.)
1/2 cup sugar (3 oz.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling ingredients
4 cups dewberries or blackberries
1/2 cup sugar (3 oz.)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the rinsed berries in a large cast-iron skillet or nine-inch round cake pan, and toss the berries with the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice. Let them macerate for 20 minutes.
To make the crust, melt the butter on low in a pan, and then add the other ingredients. Dough will be slightly sticky, moist yet pliable.
Pat out the dough and place it over the berries.
Bake 40 minutes or until light brown and bubbling.
Serves six

Related Stories Widget by LinkWithin

67 comments:

Eric Granata said...

One of the reasons I subscribe to your blog is because of stories like the one in this post. Takes me back and makes feel nostalgic for a city I couldn't wait to leave.

Thanks for the post.

radish said...

I'm a fan of cobblers/crisps/crumbles in the summer with my summer fruit. I agree - picking berries by hand is makes the end product taste better. Plus you get to snack as you pick - what can be better than that?

kickpleat said...

I've still got some last summer's berries (blackberries, tayberries, raspberries, etc) in the freezer & I've never had cobbler before. This looks wonderful and now you've got me curious for the dewberry!

Whitney said...

I am also from a Houston suburb (The Woodlands) and I can totally remember the excitement of finding a huge dewberry patch while riding my bike to my friend's house.

Thanks for reminding me of a great childhood memory.

Mrs Chronic-Shock said...

I'm a misplaced Texan down here in DC and believe it or not, we've got dewberries growing everywhere throughout our condo complex! I have to beat the kiddos before they snatch them all. Come on down and we can go berry pickin' :)

Laura said...

I can't say that I have ever had a DEWberry, but I have had a wild blackberry (and they grow the way you describe) and they are EONS better than purchased, cultivated blackberries. Maybe I'll start calling them dewberries. :) I never braved a snake to get mine but I do have insane memories of being VERY small, like toddler small, and hiding with my mom when the farmer's whose land we were on rode by on his tractor.

Spork In the Eye said...

And with this post, you capture my heart. I love the berry. The dewberries here (E.Texas) are in full production. Our blackberries, raspberries and blueberries are but a few weeks off. I can't wait.

The wife wants to make blackberry booze. And I think this year's crop will be big enough that we can do anything we want with them.

Kasey said...

I've never come across dewberries at my markets here in San Francisco, but love a good blackberry cobbler!

Bee said...

I had a pang reading this post, because unlike so many of your Texas childhood reminiscences, this is not a memory that I share. Funnily enough, though, my children and I pick up blackberries every September . . . from English hedgerows, though.

I got a cast iron skillet for Xmas, btw. (Your influence!) I look forward to giving this recipe a whirl.

JAS-- said...

Goodness gracious, my husband would be salivating all over the monitor if he saw this. Dewberry cobbler was at the top of his food chain, and every summer when we visit our Texas kin, he always asks if there are any in the freezer for a cobbler.

Can't wait to move back home in a few years and taste those babies fresh from the vine.

jas
http://www.ironacres.blogspot.com

tejasjeff said...

Dewberries and snakes.The two went together in my Houston neighborhood(off Telephone road).
One of my favorites was Blueberries mixed with Bluebell Vanilla Ice Cream.
We only had cobbler when Grandma came to visit.
Nice memories,thank you Lisa.

Tommy said...

Looks like a blackberry. Didn't they have a Dewberry compete in the first season Of Hell's Kitchen ?

Lynda said...

My husband and MIL say that Dewberries are larger than blackberries, but both are yummy! I remember, as a kid picking berries in Ark. at my grandparents farm.We were dodging snakes and June bugs to get to these treasures!They were worth it!

Toiling Ant said...

Definitely making me homesick-- and hungry!

Oh, and I grew up west of Houston and never thought of dewberries and blackberries as being the same thing.

kate said...

I'll confirm with my experience that dewberries and blackberries, while similar, are definitely not the same. Dewberries are almost like a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry (at least in color, sort of) and they have a little of the tenderness that raspberries have that is sometimes lacking in market blackberries. And they come into season much earlier than blackberries do. But yes. Blackberries would be a good substitute, but I like to think that I might be able to tell the difference if presented with both.

My mom grew up in Wharton, and we'd drive out there to visit my grandmother, and the two of them would go off (I was too young to brave the woods back then) and come home with their hands looking like they were covered in thousands of paper cuts (a price worth paying, I think), with baskets and baskets of dewberries.

I think I'll be a bit of a Texas snob here and contend that dewberries (true dewberries, that is) can only be found in East Texas. Yeah, yeah. I know you can probably find them elsewhere, but I just can't think of them as the dewberry of my youth unless they come from Texas... sigh.

cookingschoolconfidential.com said...

In abut three weeks or so, we are doing some baking at school (I'm a culinary school student). Now I know what I want to make!

Cheers.

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

Wow - memories, memories. Good ones of the lovely berries. And even good ones of the red bug bites received while picking them:)

Jill said...

I grew up in Houston too...Meyerland. You brought back some wonderful memories! Thanks for this.

Amy C Evans said...

Got chigger bites real bad one time while picking dewberries out behind the Shamrock movie theater in Houston. Had to wear pink circles of calamine lotion on my legs for days.

katie said...

Is THAT what is growing in my front yard?! I couldn't believe I had an actual blackberry bush wrapped around my front tree. I just knew they were delicious!

Deepa said...

I've never tried cobbler before but my favourite way to have them is in a crumble.
They are also great in pancakes, drop them in to the pancakes before you turn them over and let them cook into them - wonderful!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Eric--Thank you--and I feel the same way.

Radish--Exactly! Snacking while you pick makes the work all the more fun.

Kickpleat--Oh, no! This situation must change!

Whitney--It was exciting, wasn't it?

Mrs Chronic-Shock--Sounds like a berry-picking expedition to DC is in order!

Laura--Ha! How very Peter Rabbit!

Spork--That sounds like it would be delicious! And would probably be ready by Thanksgiving and I bet it's wonderful with turkey.

Bee--You're going to love you iron skillet--and it's perfect for cobblers. I also make in my cast-iron skillet a cobbler similar to your peach cobbler recipe on your site--that batter on the bottom, do-not-stir method.

JAS--Thanks for reminding me--I need to have my mom save some for when I get home.

TejasJeff--Blueberries in blueberry ice cream? Now that's decadent!

Tommy--Did they? I didn't watch that show. They would make a lovely compote.

Lynda--Well, there you go--now we know!

Toiling Ant--I didn't either, but some people say there are. A friend told me today that they're definitely not, however, so I'm not going to worry about it anymore.

Kate--It's quite alright to be a Texas snob around these here parts! And thank you for a very eloquent explanation.

Cookingschoolconfidential--Have fun baking!

Miss Meat and Potatoes--My legs were dotted with red all summer long, but well worth it.

Jill--You're very welcome.

Amy--Chiggers can be such nasty little buggers. Do you have dewberries in Mississippi?

Katie--Perhaps it is--enjoy the bounty!

Deepa--Yes! They would be awesome in pancakes!

thecatskillkiwi said...

wow i don't think i've ever seen a dewberry, but we are surrounded by blackberries and raspberries.

Melissa said...

Wow, brings back memories. When I was a child we would dress in our "farm clothes", rubber boots and gloves to go dewberry picking near the rice fields of SE Texas. My dad would bring an Axe Handle...what he called a snake stick to poke around the vegetation before picking.

Once I had heard that the dewberry grew on more of a vine and a blackberry grew on more of a bush or vice versa. I never confirmed truth to this but it just may be.

Tommy said...

Dewberry was a contestant. He was a pastry chef from the South. Ramsay called him Blueberry a few times.

AS you might have guessed, he didn't last very long.

ren said...

Count me as another one who shares this same memory: for us, it was down by the neighborhood creek (near Cypresswood).

I can't think of those berries without also remembering the scent of honeysuckle (swoon).

dawn (cedar park, tx) said...

Yum! Reminds me of the line from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, "Snozzberry? Whoever heard of a snozzberry?"

John said...

Once again you bring back great memories of growing up in Texas. I remember my Mother would pick them along the railroad tracks in Cuero where I grew up. She would make the best jelly from them. If she found a lot and someone else would walk up to start picking my Mother would always say, "be careful I just saw a copperhead", and the people would leave.

John said...

Growing up in Cuero, TX, my Mother would pick dewberries along the railroad tracks. She would always tell others to be careful because she just saw a copperhead. The people would leave and she would be able to get all of them herself. I know it was mean, but she made great jellies out of them.

Pink of Perfection said...

this makes me think of the dewberry oil perfume from the body shop i was in love with all through middle school. i didn't even know it was a real fruit!

Anonymous said...

Dewberries take me back to Houston in the seventy's. My husband and I are currently exiled to Iowa, "land of bland" when it comes to food. We have lot's of black raspberries so I make cobblers from those. Thanks for the website. I miss all things Texas except the fire ants

Cindy Bailey
Swea City, Iowa

suburban housefrau said...

We had a huge wild blackberry bush in our back yard when growing up in N Texas. We had a huge yield, and my mom always put up enough blackberry jelly to last a year plus. I never had anything but blackberry jelly on my pbjs until we moved in high school. Between that and the apricot preserves from my grandma's trees, we were covered.

My sister still has a scar where she got into a fight with a bramble.

You just can't find good blackberry cobbler anymore.

Greg said...

Picking berries is a great way to meet bears in some areas.

Bears and I have scared each other a few times. When they stand up on their hind legs to see you it'll give you an adrenalin dump like very few things.

Helene said...

I would love to taste that. We have blackberries around here but later on around August.

Hillary S said...

OMG I love dewberries! I grew up in Montgomery, TX (on Honea Egypt Rd) and would pick berries in the ditches along the fence. It's amzaing no one was ever bitten by snakes. I visted my grandparents last year and went blackberry picking in the woods in Magnolia. Half of mine went into my mouth not in my bucket!

Anjea said...

Love your blog, from a fellow Texan! Blackberries and dewberries are not the same thing, even though folks down here often use the terms interchangeably. Blackberries are smaller,firmer, and have a more tart flavor than dewberries, and their season is not the same. Thanks for the recipe!
Anjea

codyd said...

thanks Lisa. the recipe is dynamite. i wonder if there is a known limit on how much cobbler a person should eat in one sitting?

Danielle Lou said...

I love my grandmother's dewberry cobbler. I'm from East Texas, near Dallas, and we still pick dewberries around our house and pastures every year. I always called them blackberries, but they are in fact dewberries.

Here's a website that distinguishes the two:
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/AG238

Mandy said...

What a super post! From one Texas to another, thank you for reminding me of such a sweet memory. I've given you the golden heart award on my blog, check it out.

Amy C Evans said...

I've heard tell of there being dewberries in Mississippi. We happen to have a wall of blackberry bushes lining part our driveway. There were more until Kurt got to them. They're a pretty invasive plant but oh-so nice to have around for pancakes and ice cream and cobblers and such.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

TheCatskillkiwi--No, I'm not sure that they grow up here.

Melissa--Ah, perhaps that's the difference! And y'all were smart to wear your farm clothes when you went picking.

Tommy--I did not know that.

Ren--Cypresswood? Why were practically neighbors! I went to Cy-Fair High School. And honeysuckle has to be one of the world's most exquisite scents and flavors.

Dawn--Ha! It does sound like that!

John--That's too funny--your mom was clever!

Pink of Perfection--No? I guess they didn't grow in your neck of the woods.

Cindy--You're very welcome!

Suburban Housefrau--Apricots! There's nothing like fresh ones just picked off the tree.

Greg--I have never seen a bear and I don't know if my system would survive the adrenaline rush if I ever do run into one! Bears and berries reminds me of the children's book "Blueberries for Sal."

Helene--And come August you can taste some if you wish!

Hillary--I know--kids are fearless!

Anjea--More tart, eh? Good to know!

Cody--Thanks! And I believe there is no limit to how much you can eat.

Danielle Lou--Thanks for the link!

Mandy--I'm honored--why thank you!

Amy--How wonderful to be able to walk out to your driveway whenever you have a hankering for berries in your pancakes!

maggie-texas said...

My grandmother ran the elementary school cafeteria & the food was pretty good southern cooking; I do know that the junior high cafeteria was a serious shock. In 5th grade, two guys brought in enough dewberries for the whole class to have cobbler. (The other classes had to make to with canned blackberry cobbler.)

"Southern Blackberry Cobbler" is the latest flavor from Blue Bell Ice Cream. (We know it's supposed to be dewberries, but they're into "truth in advertising.") Quite delicious--with berries & bits of pie crust in vanilla ice cream. I think it's one of their temporary flavors, but the website is mostly down for maintenance right now.

Of course, I hear tell Blue Bell is not available everywhere....

Kristofer said...

I was just thinking about dewberries this morning. Now I'm remembering hot spring days in Edna picking dewberries on my grandma's land and then helping her make dewberry jelly and cobbbler. I love this blog so much. Thanks for the reminder of good days.

jo said...

I love cobblers and crumble. Especially when you are still warm from the oven and the topping has that slight crunch to it .. delicious.

Lauri said...

Yet another wonderful memory nudge courtesy of a fellow homesick Texan! My brother and I would gladly scramble through the bushes in the vacant, treed (!) lot near our home in Spring Branch to be rewarded with mouthfuls of wild dewberries. Didn't know until today that's what they were -- we just called them blackberries! And too young and ignorant to think to take some home where I'm sure my mother would have gladly baked some into a cobbler. Thanks for the recollection material!

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Austin many decades ago, as one of a handful of Jewish kids in the city. For over six years, every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, I had to go to Hebrew school after regular school. Suffice it to say, it was not a looked-forward to activity. However. Next to the Synagogue was a vacant field, rife with Dewberries, though we called them Mulberries. Regardless. We would dash to the field on our break and fill our bags with berries. Perhaps not as proficient in Alef, Bet as we could have been, we went home purple handed and berry-sated. And that's all that mattered.

Desmone007 said...

Never heard of Dewberries! But I have had mixed berry cobbler so it's possible they were mixed in there. Your post was a trip down memory lane though and I sure am inclined to try a dewberry cobbler! Thanks for sharing.

Lisa W said...

Oh, does this ever take me back to North Louisiana and picking dewberries by the side of the road -- we always had to be careful to avoid stinging nettle. For me, the month of May always reminds me of dewberries. I discovered your blog recently and love it!

David Wolfe Superfoods said...

thanks for these BEAUTIFUL pictures of the berries. wow those look good. so healthy and full of amazing juice. great, thanks.

Jason

Morta Di Fame said...

Mulberry bushes grow wild all over the city. Growing up in Queens we had one in the yard and I always used to eat them right off the tree. I wonder if a dewberry is like a mulberry, as mulberry are somewhat similar to blackberries but they are sweeter and more pinkish than black or purple. If I see one I will give you the exact coordinates!

Beja said...

My eyes just welled up seeing the name of this post. My Nana passed last year, and I loved going to pick dewberries so she could make cobbler. Hope to make it soon!

katrina said...

I cannot tell you how many slices of dewberry pie my brother, sister and I have consumed. Except that we used to pick them on my Grandpa's land near Goliad. So much fun! And such wonderful memories :)

Honeyed Hashette said...

I didn't realize you were from Houston. I miss those dewberries! When I was a girl we lived on 2 acres on the skirts of Houston and my dad would rig a piece of plywood to the back of our blue tractor and pull us through the briars to collect dewberries. He always had a shotgun at hand (in case an evil snake should rear it's ugly head) but it was never used. I always took a bucket along and loaded as many into it as I did my mouth.
I would make myself sick on berries before we were through. When all the picking was done, Dad would flip the plywood over to reveal it was stained purple from berry juice.
Best memories EVER!
Thanks for bringing them fresh to my mind. :)

LisaV said...

One of my FAVORITE childhood memories is of picking dewberries in the field behind my house in Houston. My brothers and sister and I would go out in the field with bowls and bring them back full!!! The reward? We would watch my mom wash the berries, and make a dewberry pie! Yum...it makes me miss my childhood :)

Mark Pruett said...

Wow! I haven't had dewberry cobbler in years.

Much like you, we'd go out and eat dewberries that we found in the SW Houston suburbs. One time though, a friend's dad rounded up a gang of us, and took us to an area with a lot of vacant lots (not anymore; this was near Andrau Airport roughly at Old Westheimer/Westpark) and we picked as many dewberries as we could in a couple of hours.

Then my friend's mom made dewberry pie, cobbler, jelly, etc... and we ate ourselves stupid on that stuff.

AFAIK, they don't grow here in the Dallas area.. unfortunately.

Epstein's Mom said...

I grew up in a little bitty town in Brazoria County and remember picking deweberries out in our pasture. Then I grew up, moved to the city (Austin and San Anto), and never heard "deweberry" again. I've spent my adulthood thinking "dewberry" was a figment of my childhood imagination. Thanks for the validation. P.S. Made your Texas sheet cake last night for book club --easiest cake to make ever, and it looks super delish!

Bonnie @ See How She Runs said...

I grew up in North Houston on the edge of the city limits... the boundary became the bayou behind our house... I was introduced to dewberrries by a grandmother, she picked in Luling.... so I recognized the treats when I saw them... berry picking was an adventure, I am outside of Houston and have my eyes peeled as I drive thru the rice fields lines... searching for those beautiful berries... this year they came up in my flowerbed surrounding the tree and I didnt cut them! I have a few green berries and am impatiently waiting as a dewberry cobbler is most certainly in my future!

Krista said...

I actually found this blog while searching for a dewberry cobbler recipe. As a young girl, I grew up in DeWitt County, and my mom would send me and my older brothers to pick dewberries. She would give us buckets and big bowls and told us to come back only when they were full. She would make cobblers, pies and fritters(turnovers). Then we moved to San Patricio County(coastal bend) and then on to Refugio county, always missing dewberries. After living in Beeville, Austin, and now Houston, they have completely eluded me. This brings me to why I'm writing. Today, while on a break at work, something caught my eye in the brush.... could it be??? YES! Dewberries!!!!! A giant patch of dewberries right there behind our office building off of Beltway 8. I picked about 4 cups after work, and there will be so many more ripe next week! I'm going to make a cobbler tonight, and hopefully once a week for the rest of my life!!! I am so excited!!! I have to thank you so much for your blog, it brought back so many wonderful memories! Now it's time to bake!!!

Kristen said...

Yum, yum! This is my second go round of your wonderful cobbler. After 18 years in Texas I have finally discovered the wonders of dewberries, which grow in our park here in Cinco Ranch, Katy. I grew up in Pennsylvania with mammoth blackberry bushes, so I guess I kind of thought of the dewberries as mini-mutant blackberries and never gave them much thought. My mistake!!!

So I found your recipe when trying to figure out what to do with these things and made your cobbler last week (the deliciousness oozed all over the bottom of my oven!). I do have a question or maybe a comment about the recipe. You note that the dough should be sticky and pliable and we should press it onto the dewberries. I found that the dough was pretty thin - to the point where I poured it on the berries. I followed the recipe both times to the tee, with the sole exception of using powdered buttermilk instead of real stuff. Could that make the difference, do you think? Or perhaps the quantities are off a small bit. I'm curious.

And while you miss your dewberries, I miss my WaWa hoagies You'll have to go to PA or NJ to get one, but it's worth it, so have one for me!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Kristen--I just made a batch and it was sticky and soft, and not a pourable batter. Not sure why yours is different but if it tastes good I reckon it's OK!

Kathryn said...

May I distribute coppies of your recipe with the dewberries/blackberries I am selling at a the farmer's market in Coppell, TX?
My grandfather could tell the difference between dewberries and blackberries. He put in both 40-50 years ago. I can't tell the difference, but we enjoy them both.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Hi Kathryn, Your grandfather had a good eye! And about the recipe, why don't you please send me an email and we can discuss. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I love dewberry cobbler. Mom spoiled us by making a seedless version. It took so much more work, but all these years later, I can still see that hot cobber in front of daddy and I At the dinner table. Our Okie version had to have a little milk poured over it. Awesome stuff. I remember we would have to all put on the long sleeves and pants, spray down with OFF head to toe, then grab a hat and bucket to go picking as a family. Oh, and a stick to pull back the weeds and watch for snakes.. Back at the house, we'd always have to be checked over for ticks when we finished. Now, that was living.

rialou said...

Dewberries most definitely grow in Mississippi! I remember picking them by the fence in our backyard in Ocean Springs. They also grew in abundance on our farm near Wiggins. This is making me so homesick. At least I've got blackberries in my yard out here in San Francisco :)

jrking said...

alabama has its share of dewberries. we would go to the creek on sand mountain and pick a syrup bucket full in the early morning. my sister would have a bucket and so would i,we would race to see who could fill their bucket first. our mother could make the best cobbler in the world. i get teary eyed thinking about it.

Native Texan said...

I'm a transplant Texan living in Tulsa and I miss the things of home; so I do what I can here to remind me that home; like dewberry cobbler is but a memory away. I make kolaches and use the filling for dewberry cobbler as my fruit and boy they are good. Thanks for the memories.

Katie Mitchell said...

I just made this last night and oh, my, delicious! Thank you for the recipe! The crust was absolutely perfect. We had just found a HUGE field a stone's throw away from our front door and we have been picking buckets full to make cobblers and jams. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for these berries!

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated to avoid spam. And if you don't have a blog, please leave your name as it makes it friendlier that way!