The Himalayan Blackberry features nasty thorns and a well deserved reputation as an invasive, weedy, almost noxious plant. In the Pacific tier of states, the blackberry vine has secured its foothold and with no local effective pests, it will remain for many years to come. Gleaning and consuming the sweet fruit from amid the thorns remains one of the few pleasures of hot (what passes for hot around here) August afternoons. Setting home with scratched arms and faces, and pails full of sweet, soft, almost oozing blackberries is indeed a pleasure. Many of those very perishable berries are destined for pies, snacking and desert toppings.

Here’s my contribution to what to do with the proceeds of a particularly productive day of picking. Not so much a recipe, but a process.
Intense Blackberry Sorbet:

blackberry sorbet
Equipment list:

  • Inexpensive one quart ice cream freezer. Ours is a Donvier hand cranked model, but apparently some Cuisinart attachment can be had to accomplish the deed with electricity.
  • Means to separate the seeds from the pulp and juice. I use an old fashioned conical potato ricer with a wooden pestle, though a strainer and a rubber spatula can be used with equal result.
  • Stainable clothing or means to keep nicer togs blackberry stain free.

Things to do ahead:

  • Freeze the cylinder of your ice cream maker. This can take from one to three days depending on how cold your freezer is, how often the door is opened, and whether the planets were correctly aligned.
  • Make up some simple syrup to sweeten the mix. Simple syrup is traditionally a one to one (by volume) ratio of sugar and water. Honey can also be used as a more locally found sweetener for the syrup. You’ll need about 2/3 to 1 cup of syrup for each quart you will make depending on tartness. Bring the syrup to a hard boil for a minute or so, stirring vigorously after it boils. Let cool, and put in the refrigerator.

Day of picking:

  • Collect a large bucket of ripe blackberries.
  • Rinse the berries (particularly important for berries from roadside or otherwise dusty environments).
  • Separate the seeds from the juice and pulp with the ricer or strainer.
  • Place the juice and pulp in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.

When ready to make sorbet:

  • Mix fruit juice and pulp with syrup until desired balance of sweetness and tartness is achieved.
  • Take cylinder from freezer and assemble the ice cream maker. Pour about 3-1/4 or so cups of the berry and syrup mixture into the ice cream maker.
  • Every minute or two, stir with the crank two or three revolutions for about ten minutes.
  • As the mixture begins to thicken, increase the number of turns, until the sorbet is mostly frozen. You should not be exerting great amounts of force, or the plastic paddle will break.
  • Scoop the semi-solid sorbet into a plastic container, and place in the freezer until ready to consume.

sorbet in mixer
When fully frozen (assuming you can wait):

  • Serve by shaving thin peels with the side of a sturdy soup spoon into small bowls.