Yes, blackberries are an invasive species, but they’ve become as synonymous with Oregon as Douglas Firs, crashing rivers and the Cascade Mountains. And we love them. The sad fact is that blackberries don’t really grow in Central Oregon, but they’re so close it’s only a morning’s drive between you and the taste of those sweet purple berries.
We recommend you load up the fam or gather some friends and head just a bit west to collect a bounty of summer’s end treasures.
• Hood River- 2 Hours
• Take 126 to Sweet Home. Just over the crest of the Cascades, you’ll be in blackberry territory- 1.5 hours
Once there look for:
• Railroad tracks
• Edges of rivers
• Pull-outs off the road
Here’s what you need:
Two or three medium-sized pails or buckets. Be sure they aren’t too big or the berries at the bottom will be squished.
Gloves. The prickers on blackberry bushes are no joke.
Long pants and long sleeves. Speaking of thorns, you’ll want to cover up just about everywhere with a layer of something durable.
How to clean and store them
Get a big tub or sinkfull of water and gently float your berries. This will drown bugs and help separate undesired twigs and other debris
To freeze berries, allow them to dry fully, then place in thick freezer grade plastic bags. Make sure to store with a date.
Puree in a food processor and store in a jar in the freezer. Great for syrups, dressings, etc.
Learn to make jam!
Try this Recipe
By Chow chef Dave Touvell
We asked Chef Dave Touvell of CHOW to dream up a delicious meal using the fresh blackberries you’ll pick this summer. Picture this plate: duck confit, topped with micro radish greens, topped with locally-made chevre, topped with a blackberry blood orange sauce and a handful of blackberries scattered around for good measure. Bon appetit!
Duck Confit with Chevre, Radish Greens and Blackberries and
Drizzled with Blackberry Blood
Orange Dressing for Two
• 3 Tbsp salt
• 4 cloves garlic, smashed
• 1 shallot, peeled and sliced
• 6 sprigs thyme
• Coarsely ground black pepper
• 4 duck legs with thighs
• 4 duck wings, trimmed
• About 4 cups duck fat
Blackberry blood orange dressing
• 1 pint fresh picked blackberries
• 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1 blood orange
• kosher salt
2 cups Micro Radish Greens,
available locally Juniper Grove
1. Combine salt, garlic, shallot and thyme. Sprinkle half of mixture in bottom of dish large enough to hold duck pieces in a single layer. Arrange the duck, skin-side up, over the salt and herb mixture. Sprinkle remaining half of salt and herb mixture and a little black pepper over duck. Cover and refrigerate for one to two days.
2. Preheat oven to 225°F. Melt duck fat in saucepan. Brush the salt and seasonings off the duck. Arrange duck pieces in a single snug layer in a high-sided baking dish. Pour melted fat over the duck so pieces are covered and place in the oven. Cook duck slowly at a very slow simmer — just an occasional bubble — until the duck is tender and can be easily pulled from the bone, two to three hours. Remove from the oven. Cool.
3. Place cooled duck on a plate and top with 1 cup radish greens. Nestle 1.5 oz. mound of chevre into greens.
4. Place ½ cup blackberries in bowl with juice of blood orange, olive oil and pinch of kosher salt. Blend.
5. Scatter rest of blackberries on plate.
6. Drizzle entire dish with blackberry blood orange dressing.