Last summer's poor growing conditions, compounded by the late frost and extreme heat, meant no wild black raspberries or even blackberries for pies, jam and preserves.
So this season, I've been busy with my mom and dad making up for last year's losses while appreciating this season's berry bounty.
While compromised by their lack of size, compared to their plump and lush red raspberry vine cousins, there's no contest when contrasting the sweet aroma, taste and flavor. Earlier this month, we made batches of delicious wild black raspberry preserves, which are always the first fruit variety to sell out when my mom brings her pantry wares to my events.
Last week, we made 40 jars of wild blackberry jam, now carefully stored in the cool, dry farm cellar. This week, we're busy making blueberry preserves and freezing a bumper crop of milky, mouth-watering sweet corn.
While I've shared my mom's homemade blackberry pie recipe in my 2010 "Further From the Farm" cookbook, I've never published a raspberry pie recipe for readers. Because not many people have access to wild black raspberries, nor the patience to pick enough to fill a brimming pie shell, most of today's recipes are adapted for the larger red raspberries which are now available year-round in the produce section of most grocery stores.
However, Auntie Lottie gave me the recipe I'm including today which is for a a true black raspberry pie, though it also works just fine for using red raspberries. The recipe is from 1951 and comes from home economist Miss Margaret Mitchell, who worked for the kitchens of Wear-Ever Cookware.
Started in 1903, WearEver (as it's branded today) is still in business and is now celebrating a 110th anniversary. Because this line of pots and pans was made from aluminum, it was prized for resistance to rusting and remarkable lightweight advantage. It garnered world-wide acclaim early on as "so extraordinary," that in 1909, Admiral Robert Perry took the cookware on an expedition to the North Pole.
As for the origin of her recipe, Miss Mitchell's narrative reads: "This recipe is taken from my grandmother and served in my home. My treasures are my recipes. Let it become your treasure too."
Miss Margaret Mitchell's Black Raspberry Pie
2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 cup shortening or lard
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 to 5 heaping cups fresh black or red raspberries
1 tablespoon butter
DIRECTIONS: Heat oven to 425 degrees. To make crust, begin by sifting flour and salt together into a bowl. Cut in shortening/lard with pastry blender or two knives, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Continue cutting until particles start to cling together in little balls about the size of peas. Mark mixture off into thirds with fork. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of water on one of the parts and quickly work into dough until it clings together when pressed with fingers. It should not be wet or sticky. Repeat with remaining two portions, always trying to use as little water as possible. Place dough on wax paper and cup with hands to form a wrapped ball. Chill for 10-15 minutes, before rolling out top and bottom 9-inch pie crusts between two pieces of waxed paper. Line a 9-inch pie pan with one crust. In a medium bowl, mix sugar, flour, cornstarch, nutmeg. salt, cinnamon and lemon juice. Add the mixture to berries and gently combine to make filling. Pour filling into pie crust. Dot berry filling with butter. Moisten edge of pastry with water and cover with remaining crust. Trim excess and press edges together with a fork. Create slits in top crust for ventilation. Cover edge of pie crust with strips of aluminum foil to prevent over-baking. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until brown in hot oven. Makes 8 servings.