The Last Blackberries of Summer Past

One hot day last summer, a long limbed son and a much shorter son went blackberrying up through the grass.  They came back with bowls and pans and buckets of juicy plump Himalayan blackberries.  Some we ate sprinkled over cereal and ice cream. Some were made into jam (but not enough.) And some were baked into pies then and there.  They sat steaming on the counter to cool while stars came out and dishes were washed.  A few were measured and bagged and frozen and marked for special occasion pies throughout the winter.

Today, on the last cool day of this summer not long before a new batches of berries are ready to be picked, we opened the last bag of last summer’s memories and measured in sugar, Myer’s lemon juice and a portion of organic local flour.  My oldest son, the one that loves pies but hates berry picking, rolled out pie dough made from the Tassajara recipe with whole wheat and tucked  the berries between thin rounds of delicate pastry.  He pricked out a wedge of cherry birthday cake until rich red juices spurted through the holes.   ” ‘Cause cake on a pie is witty,” he said. “And makes it sweeter,” I added to myself.

Tonight, we ate homemade stew and salad.  Then the much shorter son cut out the first piece of pie.  Rich dark red slabs after rich dark red slabs disappeared until half the pie is gone.

…Right about now I’m realizing that the long limbed son who moved out on his own nearly missed out on the last of the berries…

Better invite him to have one of the those leftover slices for breakfast.



  • Nice, Kym.

  • Neener, I still have berries in the freezer… but alas, no pie.
    It has long been one of my personal traditions to pick blackberries on the 4th of July. Some years have been a little skimpy, but I’ve always found some. I’m a liittle nervous that I might not find any ripe this year.

    • If you find berries on the Fourth, I’ll…I’ll eat them. We hardly have more than blossoms here. If you have a secret early berry patch better watch for a tail–one large pickup blending in amongst the others in search of Humboldt’s best.

  • Thank you for sharing a classic, identifiable slice-of-life story (pun intended, groan.) I remember such time “way back when,” when I baked my last bag of last-Summer’s frozen fruit (black cherries, in this case) into a pie (also using the Tassajara recipe for the crust.)

    And someday, when the short-limbed son becomes another long-limbed son – even though to others they appear to be two long-legged sons – they both will still acutely remember precisely which of whom had himself most recently been the short-limbed son; the short-limbed son to which – in this essay – you refer. (It’s a brother thing, but it’s more of a short-limbed brother thing than a long-limbed brother thing!)

  • I had to do a quick check of my calendar. I thought I must have missed Clay’s birthday.
    This is still June, isn’t it?

  • I just realized that my stores of berries, both black and blue, from last summer are gone. My pies and smoothies will have to do without for a few months. Thinking I will have to be more industrious this summer so I don’t run out again. And berry pie for breakfast is even better than for dessert. I wasn’t familiar with the Tasajara pie crust but am intrigued. I use a standard shortening crust but often do half whole wheat and add sesame seeds as well.

    • Yours sounds a lot like the Tassajara pie dough.

      Tassajara Pie Dough (No fail Pie dough- Best ever)

      2 cups unbleached white flour
      2 cups whole-wheat flour
      1 1/3 cup Crisco shortening (no other brand works as well)
      ¼ tsp salt
      14-16 Tbls of water taken from a glass of water with ice in it

      Put flour and salt in a metal bowl. Mix with fork. Add shortening with your fingers until dough is mostly pea-sized. Add very cold water (this is critical) and toss with hands like a salad. Add water until dough clings together. Knead lightly and refrigerate one hour or in freezer 15 minutes before rolling out with cool rolling pin.

  • A cake on a berry pie. That’s awesome! And it’s great that your supply made it almost all the way through to this year’s crop. I was just out looking at the blossoms earlier today. Makes me drool for the berries to come!!

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