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Hurry, hurry! Get those figs & blackberries while you can!

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Now that strawberry season is long gone and blueberries are about done for, it’s time for two more of nature’s delicious gifts, figs and blackberries. However, there’s a short window in the summer, especially for figs, where it’s possible to pick these little delicacies at just the right time to take advantage of their juiciest and best flavor. So, watch your fig trees and blackberry bushes, or if you can’t pick ’em yourself, head out to the farmer’s markets and fruit stands and support our growers by buying local and buying often!

Figs

Let’s get this straight. I just love figs. I can remember picking figs at my grandmother’s house and she would peel some for us and leave the stem on just like it was nature’s lollipop. Like back then, we still get together ,as a family, and pick figs from the trees at my sister’s house on Ourso Farms and we make preserves that last all year. Our delicious homemade fig preserves can most often be found in our catered breakfasts and have been known to transform an ordinary biscuit into an out-of-this-world delight. Most importantly, we put up another batch of figs for use in the Bergeron Family’s famous fruitcakes. However, you have to wait until the holidays for those.

Blackberries

The best place to pick blackberries is behind the levee in White Castle (although I won’t give away my secret as to exactly where). In addition to using them to make homemade jelly, you’ll find these little rascals on my summertime menu in a variety of dishes like pies, cobblers and tarts.

However, I have two favorite recipes: Grandma Tute’s Blackberry Jellyrolls and my own after-dinner brandy cordial of which I make 2-3 bottles a year. I call it Blackberry Bounce.

When we would begin picking, Grandma Tute used to sit on a stool in front of the blackberry vine and poke the bushes with her walking cane to make sure nothing was creeping amongst the berries. After we had gathered enough, she would make homemade jelly and the best jellyroll you’ve ever had in your life. If you don’t believe me just ask my cousins. Her recipe for the jellyrolls is below for you to enjoy. The Blackberry Bounce will stay as secret as my favorite “picking” spot behind the levee in White Castle.

 

Grandma Tute’s Blackberry Jelly Rolls

– 3 eggs

– 1 cup sugar

– ¼ cup cold water

– 1 tsp vanilla

– ¾ cup all-purpose flour

– 2 tsp baking powder

– Pinch of salt

– ¼ cup powdered sugar

– 1 cup blackberry jelly (or jelly of your choice)

– 10×15 inch jellyroll pan

– large clean dish towel

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line 10×15 inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Spray bottom and sides of pan with non-stick spray. Cream eggs and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add water and vanilla; continue to mix. Blend in flour, baking powder, and salt. Continue mixing until light and fluffy. Pour mixture onto cookie sheet and spread evenly. Bake 12-14 minutes or until cake separates from side of pan and springs lightly to touch. Do not overcook as edges will get crunchy. Allow to cool slightly.

Place a large, clean dish towel on countertop and cover with parchment paper. Sprinkle the paper generously with powdered sugar. After the cake has cooled 5-6 minutes, turn out onto sugared paper. Peel off parchment paper that cake was baked on. Beginning at the narrow end roll towel, parchment paper, and cake up until it resembles a rolling pin. Allow to set for 10 minutes rolled up. Put jelly in a bowl and stir to make it smooth for spreading. Unroll cake and spread evenly and completely from corner to corner with jelly. Roll up again as before but without the paper and towel. Allow to set and cool for about thirty minutes before slicing. When set, slice into ¾ inch pieces, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and serve.

Makes approximately 12-14 slices.


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