When I think of picking blackberries, my mind goes back to childhood when I would get tangled in the blackberry bushes trying to fill emptied gallon ice cream containers with the little jewels of sweetness that I knew my mom would make into something yummy. Another favorite memory is of taking the boat around the lake by our house to reach all the elusive berries that tumbled over the shore. With wild blackberries, I think part of the fun is the hunt, and I don’t think anything about that joy has changed for me.
We are lucky enough to have loads of wild blackberries growing on our property, and I can’t walk by without picking them. Some of the things I don’t remember from when I was a kid are the absolute miserable heat and the thorns that always find my sleeves or my hair. But even with some of the tortuous situations that I find myself in while picking blackberries, I still find it utterly satisfying.
In the past, I have made blackberry jellies and syrups with the wild blackberries that I picked. You can’t beat the sweetness and tartness of blackberry jelly, but we still have about 15 jars of jelly sitting in the closet. Since I can’t just walk by the blackberry bushes and let the birds eat them all, I had to come up with another way to use them this year. I recently got a food dehydrator and had been wanting to make fruit leather, so I thought this would be the perfect time to try it.
The fruit leather was easy to make. There are different methods of making it, but I decided to cook the berries with a little bit of water to get the juice flowing. I mashed them up, and when I couldn’t mash them anymore, I ran them through a food mill.
Some of the seeds made it through, and I didn’t strain them all out, but I figured it would lend some texture to the fruit leather. After I had all of the blackberry juice separated from the pulp, I added some honey to the juice. Finally, I poured the juice into the dehydrator trays and let them dehydrate for about six hours.
I really enjoyed the final product. To me, it was basically like eating blackberry jelly, but with less sugar. I also tried some with maple syrup instead of honey which was just as tasty. Next time, I am going to try to make some without any seeds. I think the smooth texture might be good. I am excited to get to picking to make some more of this delicious treat!