Blackberry season is upon us



Take a break from blueberries. In fact, forget about them entirely. Instead, grab a handful (delicately) of plump, tart blackberries.

Blackberries have an unfair reputation. They can be dull in color, bitter even when ripe, and smash seemingly without being touched. But the most persnickety fruit can be the most rewarding, if one just has the patience to go a little slower.

While blackberries are at farmer's markets and the supermarket, you can also pick your own. Charles Ferruzza had a great list of places to pick that are in easy driving distance of Kansas City last week.

As for what to look for when picking, ripe blackberries (not surprisingly) have a dull black color. They should have a slight give like memory foam. Unlike other fruit, blackberries don't continue to ripen after they've been picked. So don't pick the magenta berries thinking they'll ripen at home. They won't.

Eat a few in the fields; that's when they're best. But if you're taking the rest home, store them in an open Tupperware container in the fridge. The berries should be good for two, possibly three days. Only wash them, when you're ready to eat them. I use a colander and gently roll them with my hand. I then let the berries dry on a paper towel, picking out any soft or mushy fruit.

The balance of tart and sweet means that blackberries can form the basis of some outstanding cocktails. The Blackberry Bramble uses blackberries as a garnish in the sweet and sour cocktail. The Blackberry Cinnamon Basil Gin Fizz uses blackberry syrup. And the Blackberry Smash is a fruit-inspired take on a mint julep. Those who don't drink alcohol should consider making homemade blackberry soda.

Blackberries are also meant for dessert. Snag a slice of the blackberry pie at You Say Tomato -- they get their blackberries from Lawrence -- or the blackberry-blueberry pie if it's on the menu at The Farmhouse.  And if you see the blackberry peach muffin at the Filling Station, grab it any time of day.

What other blackberry dishes are you enjoying around town? 

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