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Summer Fresh Blackberries

Texas Blackberries and Blackberry Recipes
by Lucas Everidge
A warm summer day with fingers and mouths stained dark with blackberry juice can evoke memories of picking blackberries among many Texans. Blackberries, or zarzamoras to Spanish-speaking Texans, often grow wild in Texas, but are frequently cultivated by both home gardeners and commercial growers.

A friend of mine used to go out with his sister and pick zarzamoras by the railroad tracks. Later in the evening, the kids enjoyed fresh blackberries atop a big scoop of ice cream.

Wild blackberries are always nice; however, today many specialty grown varieties are larger and, some say, tastier. Some people recall dealing with lots of thorns when picking blackberies. Commercial growers grow blackberries on trellises, which makes picking them much easier. And there are new, thornless varieties like Arapaho and Navaho that have completely smooth stems. Released by the University of Arkansas in 1989, these thornless selections produce large, juicy clusters of fruit.

Another popular variety is the Kiowa blackberry. Grow them on a trellis to avoid the thorns. These upright plants produce beautiful, large berries. Known as the largest blackberries, they can be eight to ten times bigger than wild berries.

In Texas, blackberries peak in June. Blackberry plants produce ripe fruit for six to seven weeks. Each plant typically yields eight to ten pounds of tasty berries.

Big Blackberries
Photo courtesy Sweet Berry Farms
Today many Pick-Your-Own farms are a popular source for fresh blackberries. Typically, visitors pay about $2.25 per pound, and there is no minimum or maximum amount of fruit you can pick.

Sweet Berry Farm in the Texas Hill Country is open all year, and offers a great selection of Pick-Your-Own berries when in season. Their varieties include the Arapaho, Navaho and Kiowa. The farm is about an hour west of Austin, and directions are on their website at www.sweetberryfarm.com.

Blackberries are well adapted to most of Texas, and they are easy to grow in home gardens. Most people plant blackberries in November or December. They are biennials that start bearing fruit a year after planting, and they're not too fussy, but water them during dry periods. You can order all these special varieties through mail order shippers like our sponsor, Michigan Bulb.

Locate a sunny area in your garden, and plant several varieties. Grow blackberries along a trellis, wall or fence. You will be rewarded with delicious fruit for your cobblers, ice cream and other desserts.

Use blackberries in a mouthwatering blackberry cobbler or one of our special pies. Here's a list of Texas Cooking blackberry recipes.

  • Cool Berry Buckles and Tarts
    by Jennifer Farmer
    One of my all-time favorites is something similar to a cobbler, but different in that it has a layer of pastry underneath the fruit. The fruit is almost sandwiched in between a cake-like layer on the bottom and a crunchy top layer, which usually contains nuts.

If you have questions, contact us at moc.gnikoocsaxet@nibrof_solkim.
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