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.
- 4 cups dewberries or blackberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 stick of butter
- 1 cup of flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 cup of buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Place the rinsed berries in a large cast-iron skillet or 9-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 stir in the flour, sugar, baking powder, buttermilk, and salt. The 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.
We just made this tonight, using frozen dewberries from last season. And it turned out perfect! Better than I remember cobbler being when I was growing up. (Of course my dad probably just used bisquick like he did for everything he baked.) so glad to have this recipe. We will make it again and again. And so glad to be a Texan..born and raised! Thanks for the recipe!
Lauren—i’m so glad you enjoyed it! This year’s crop will be here soon, and I agree, dewberries are a reason to be thankful!
Hi Lisa…I am making the cobbler tonight, but I KNOW that it will be what I remember from my childhood in Houston. We live in Austin now but dewberries grow near Smithville and a friend who lives there, traded me four cups of fresh dewberries for half a dozen green tomatoes yesterday. I was SO excited to get the dewberries. Haven’t tasted those berries since I was in my late teens, but I have wonderful memories of fighting my way thru the brambles in the deep gully between our house and a raised railroad track. Chiggers? YOU BET! (reach for the clear nail polish to coat the red bumpies all over my little bod). Bramble bites? YOU BET! (reach for the mercurochrome). I remember the white “spider spit,” aka “snake spit” or so we called it, that hung from some branches of the bramble. Never knew what it was, but that didn’t matter to a bunch of kids with dewberry juice all over our clothes. Looking back now, having lived so near one of Houston’s numerous bayous, we took a lot of chances, but that is what made it exciting. We were feral children and our neighborhood was a safe place. We climbed into the mimosa trees in our backyards to get, split, and gather the seeds. No reason! We raised chickens for eggs and pets, made dandelion necklaces, and chased down mudbugs in the gully after rain storms. Thanks for causing me to take this trip down nostalgia lane and giving me a chance to revisit a recipe I only vaguely recalled. Looking forward to it!