Picking blackberries was always worth the effort when Mama promised a pot of her blackberry dumplings. It was the bait that got us running out of the door with bucket in hand. Walking along the canal levees hunting for the red and black berry-thickets was a game in itself. The best ones were always climbing the fences that outlined the rice fields. All was well until the berries got a little harder to reach, and the sun a little hotter to stand. Then there was always the chance of walking upon a snake or a bug that would sting. The worst was taking a fall into those brambles. Ouch! We always came away with at least a few scratches. Such fond childhood memories!
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As soon as we returned home we would give our harvest a dip in cool water then drain them. It was nothing to bring home a couple of gallons at a time. While Mama cooked the berries we’d spoon some sugar over a bowl of fresh ones to sample. The cooked pot of tender pillows of dough in the sweetened berry juice was so good. We always ate them straight from the hot pot and I can’t remember ever having any leftovers.
Preparing the Blackberry Dumplings
During a recent visit my Mama paid us in Arkansas we made a pot of that blackberry stew.
While she was preparing some crabmeat au gratin (something I must share later) she walked me through an old recipe of blackberry dumplings. It is found in a favored, worn out St. Peter’s Catholic School cookbook. You know the kind where everyone gathers their best recipes as a fund-raiser for their children’s school? Those dumplings turned out to be a nostalgic dessert enjoyed at the supper table that night.
Later, I started experimenting with that recipe. There was nothing wrong with that original one, but I wanted to lighten up the sweetness and add something to the dough.
Starting with frozen berries I cooked them in water, sugar and some lemon juice to brighten them up.
The dumpling ingredients were changed a bit by some added nutmeg. This nutmeg flavor lends the taste from those delicious homemade tarts. The blackberry ones are my favorite.
After the berries were cooked I used 2 spoons to drop the dumpling batter into the juice among the berries.
Giving them a flip helps to cook through and coat them with the flavorful juice.
Don’t let not having blackberry bushes in your back yard stop you from preparing this simple dessert. The fresh or frozen ones from your grocer work just as well. In less than half an hour, you can be serving these warm blackberry dumplings either by themselves or topped with ice cream.
It’s so worth the effort, especially if you get to pick your own berries, with scratches and all!
A warm, soft dumpling cooked in sweet blackberry sauce brings back memories of traditional blackberry picking during early southern Louisiana summers.
4 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons shortening
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Bring berries, sugar, water and lemon juice to a boil in a large skillet using high heat. Cook for 10 minutes lowering heat just a little. Stirring occasionally. Put remaining ingredients into a bowl and mix together using an electric mixer. Dough will be somewhat stiff. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls into cooked berries. Cover and cook dumplings for 5 minutes. Turn dumplings over and cook covered another few minutes or until dumplings are cooked through. Serve warm by itself or with a scoop of ice cream.
Serving Size:1/2 cup
Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand. Mother Teresa