Oh blackberries. For me, blackberries are the thing of wonderful childhood memories. Isn’t it funny how we can attach so much nostalgia to food?
But back to the blackberries.
Growing up in the little college town of Corvallis, Oregon, we were just a stone’s throw away from the blackberry fields of the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area. At the time, my Dad was going to college (and only able to work part time in the summers) and my Mum was supporting us on a teacher’s salary (which, for those of you that don’t know, isn’t much). Our tight, shoe-string budget meant a frugal existence.
That’s not to say we went without (and it wasn’t until later in life that I truly realized the extent to which my parents made sacrifices to make sure I had what I needed), but it did mean shopping second hand, coupon clipping, homemade clothing (you know, back when it was still cheaper to make your own clothes), and learning to preserve foods.
And as a child, it was the things memories are made of!
My mum passed along her seamstress skills to me at a young age, I developed quite the eye for cool second hand finds, and our days were often spent out adventuring in the wilderness. We made regular trips to E.E. Wilson, a World War II army training center turned internment camp turned student housing turned wildlife refuge. These days E.E. Wilson is mostly just a system of abandoned, deteriorating paved roads open to walkers, hunters, and fishers.
But it has a delicious secret for those that know where to look: an extensive collection of summer fruit trees and miles of blackberry bushes. And it was a summer tradition to collect blackberries by the 5-gallon bucket load to make into jams, syrups, or just freeze for later use (and, with the prices of berries, was an awesome money saver!).
So although we can afford to buy our blackberries at the stores these days, blackberries will always bring back fond memories of the warm late-summer sun, stained fingers, and my Dad’s famous blackberry milkshakes. Because what could be better after a long day if berry picking than fresh blackberries and ice cream?
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
- 1 (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 12 oz fresh blackberries
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the heavy whipping cream on high until it holds stiff peaks. Add the sweetened condensed milk and continue beating until the mixture holds stiff peaks again. On low, whisk in the vanilla extract until just combined.
- In a blender, puree the berries. If you'd prefer not to have the seeds and pulp, now would be the time to strain them out (I left them in for mine).
- Pour half the cream/condensed milk mixture into a bowl, and gently fold in about ½-3/4 cup of the blackberry puree.
- Layer the vanilla and blackberry ice cream in a large, wax paper lined loaf pan. Spoon some or all of the leftover blackberry puree on top, and gently swirl the ice cream with a butter knife.
- Cover and allow to freeze overnight (or at least 7-8 hours) before serving.