I was taking a bit of a break from all the remodeling work going on at our place, and stepped into our forest for a few minutes last weekend to relax. I had no sooner walked a bit into the forest then my eyes spied something.... blue!
The Oregon grapes were ripe! When I first tasted an Oregon grape berry several years ago, it seemed like it was sour enough to pucker my mouth permanently! They are a very, very puckery sour berry!
However, after doing a bit of research on them, I've discovered that they do have marvelous properties, and can be used in jellies, jams, and juices. Their root has incredible healing properties, which the travelers of the Oregon pioneer trail discovered, and why Oregon named this berry as their state flower.
If you would like more information on the amazing qualities of this sour berry, you can read this article: http://www.thepracticalherbalist.com/holistic-medicine-library/oregon-grape-gentle-protector/.
It took me quite a while to find these berries, as they grow very sparsely, and you have to hunt for them. I found that many of them liked growing around our Douglas firs.
After about an hour of looking for and picking these berries, I ended up with just a little over 1 cup of berries. Certainly nothing like the blueberry harvest I got in last week, lol! And I certainly ended up with more than my share of scratches! The Oregon grape bushes are from the holly family, and have sharp little thorny edges, so trying to get a few berries into the bowl meant squatting down among other thorny pointy bushes to get the berries.
Because the Oregon grape berries are SO SOUR, I knew that if I was to do anything with them, some extra sweetness had to be involved. When I did not find any recipes for cobblers made out of Oregon grape berries online, I decided it would be worthwhile to come up with my own.
The verdict was in! You could definitely tell the distinctive taste of the Oregon berries, but as they were mixed with the very sweet and delicious blueberries I had just picked, the sour and the sweet mixed together, to create a tasty cobber! Every once in a while, you got a bite of the sour Oregon grape berry, but it wasn't too bad!
I cooked up the cobbler in my trusty big iron skillet, which cooked the cobbler to perfection.
And I don't have a fancy picture to show you of the cobbler, because it was being served up to friends for dessert, and I was lucky to get a picture of it, before it was eaten up in a hurry!
Here is my go-to cobbler recipe, it is simple, easy, and turns out amazing every time!
1 large can peaches (can use other fruit with sugared sauce)
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted in pan
Cinnamon/sugar to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put stick of butter in 9x13 pan, or large 9" iron skillet and place in oven to melt. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour in 1 cup milk. Stir gently. Take pan out of oven with melted butter. Pour in batter over butter. Do not stir. Then drop in fruit on top of batter. Do not stir. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over top of cobbler, and place back in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Check to see if it is browned and bubbly before removing from oven.
For my Oregon grape-blueberry cobbler, this is how I prepared the fruit for the cobbler:
1 cup blueberries
1 cup Oregon grapes
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp cornstarch
Mix all together in saucepan, and cook over low heat just until mixture comes to a boil, and thickens. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Use in cobbler recipe.
I wanted to cook the Oregon grapes and blueberries together to help sweeten the overall flavor of the fruit. However, you could just add fresh berries to the cobbler batter, if desired as well!
This turned out to be a wonderful dessert enjoyed by all with a large helping of homemade vanilla ice cream. I'm glad that my little walk in the woods turned into such a fun dessert!