Blackberry Pie

Yes my friends, it’s time for blackberries. The season is here, the berries are ripe and ready for picking. Blackberries grow wild here along the American River, and pretty much around all of the creeks and streams in California. Heck, they even grow wild in empty lots and neglected back yards in San Francisco. Hank, I, and our friend and fellow food blogger Amber went berry picking at the river this week and brought home a couple pounds of fresh, ripe, juicy berries, perfect for a pie. And a perfect pie it is, or was. It didn’t last long. Honestly I think it was one of the best pies I’ve ever made, and that’s saying something, because I like to make pie. The filling held together (instant tapioca is a great thickener), the additions of lemon, cinnamon, and almond extract just intensified and enhanced the blackberry flavor. And the crust? Well, in my opinion, homemade pie is just an excuse to eat homemade butter crust.

Not everyone has access to wild blackberries. If that’s you, you can easily use market berries or frozen berries. Trader Joe’s carries a good quality bag of frozen mixed berries that would work perfectly well with this pie. If you do have a blackberry bush nearby, pick only the berries that are all black, or deeply purple. If the berry still has red in it, it’s not ripe and will be unpleasantly tart. A truly ripe berry should be easy to pick. You shouldn’t have to tug on it too much to get it off of the vine. Wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt for picking, the thicker the cloth the better, as you’ll need protection from the berry plant’s many many (ouch) thorns. Put the berries in a bucket or thick plastic bag. The juice from the berries will go through any paper bag.

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Blackberry Pie Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 8 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 pie dough recipe for top and bottom crust
  • 5-6 cups blackberries, rinsed, picked clean, patted dry (if you use frozen berries, defrost and drain them)
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet your berries are)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 Tbsp quick cooking instant tapioca (can usually find in the baking aisle of your local supermarket)

Method

1 Place blackberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, almond extract, and quick cooking instant tapioca in a large bowl. Gently fold the berries until they are all well coated with sugar. Let sit for 30 minutes.

2 Preheat oven to 400°F. You should have two balls of pie dough, one for the bottom crust, one for the top crust. Roll out one of the balls of pie dough on a lightly floured surface to 12-inch diameter if you are using a 9-inch pie pan, or 13-inch diameter if you are using a 10-inch pan. Line the bottom of your pie pan with the dough. Chill in refrigerator while you roll out the bottom crust.

3 Roll out the second ball of pie dough for the top crust. If you would like to do a lattice top, weave the dough strips as described in How to Make a Lattice Top for a Pie Crust.

4 Spoon the berry mixture into the dough-lined pie dish. For a lattice top, weave strips of pie dough over the top of the fruit-filled pie dish. For a solid top, place the second rolled-out pie dough crust on top of the pie. Press ends of strips into the rim of the bottom crust. Use scissors to trim the edges to 1/2-inch from the outer edge of the pie pan. Fold the edges back over themselves and use your fingers to crimp to seal the edges. If you are using a solid top crust, score the top with a sharp knife to create air vents for the steam to escape.

5 Place the pie on the middle rack of the oven. Put a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any juices that might bubble out of the pie while it's cooking. Bake the pie in two stages. First bake it at 400°F for 30 minutes. Then place a sheet of aluminum foil over the pie to protect the edges and tops from getting too burnt. (A pie protector is quite useful here.) Reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until crust has browned and filling is bubbly.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Cool completely before serving.

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28 Comments

  1. Cat @ theKitchenMaid

    I’ve never had a black berry pie, only blueberry, but yours looks lovely. If I use frozen berries they would have to be drained, right?

    Yes, defrost and drain. ~Elise

  2. randi

    I wonder what this would be like if I strained the mixture through a large holed sieve to get the seeds out? My teeth have been breaking alot lately (a medical reason) and I’m scared to bite on anything hard. I’m guessing it would have to be thickened a bit more.

  3. Anna

    I’ve got a bag of TJ frozen berries in the freezer. Conventional pie crust is out for me because of the gluten and the starch, but I’ll try your recipe for filling with a coconut flour cobbler topping, which is both GF and LC.

  4. Marcia

    I have 4 one lb bags of blackberries in the freezer @ $1.01 each a few weeks ago. I am glad to see others like cinnamon and almond extract in berry pies. I use a mix of cornstarch and tapioca to thicken my berry pies. I have also used Clearjel from King Arthur flour–adds fewer carbs and that is a must for our type 2 diabetic family.

    I also like to make cobbler and use frozen biscuits on top. I make a half recipe as I am cooking for a small number of people these days.

    It is extra hot today in ATL–again. The oven will be turned on about midnight and several things will be made for the coming week. Two small blackberry pies will be in that oven.

    @ 114º humi temp, I can cook bacon and eggs on my sidewalk. Wonder how long it would take to bake a pie in a solar oven; Girl Scout style?

  5. Lisa

    One of my favorite childhood memories is picking blackberries in the woods near my grandmother’s house in North Carolina. Nothing has ever tasted that good! I may not be able to duplicate the taste, or the memory, of my Mamaw’s blackberry pie, but I think it’s time to try! Thanks for bringing back some great memories and for this recipe!!

  6. Kathy

    Inspiration! I came home from the farmer’s market with 3 baskets of dead ripe blackberries this morning, but no real plan. Didn’t feel up to pie crust, but followed this recipe for filling and added a streusel-crisp topping. It’s about to come out of the oven, to be served with a little homemade vanilla ice cream.

  7. Katrina

    I have lived in Sacramento my whole life. Are the blackberries just everywhere along the river? or can you give a few basic ideas?
    Thanks
    Katrina

    They are everywhere. All along the bike trail. I don’t think you can bike a half mile on the trail without encountering at least one huge patch. Though you’ll need to go on one of the dirt trails to find a bush that isn’t well picked. Just keep your eye out this time of year for rattlesnakes. Don’t walk willy nilly into the brush. ~Elise

  8. Psydad

    Love the Blackberry Pie – but as Randi said – can’t have the seeds (in my case it’s my mom’s dentures) so I cook the berries and juice ‘em – run them through the sieve and then the cheesecloth to get all the seeds out. Then I use either cornstarch and butter to thicken it, or tapioca flour, really whatever works. It makes a delicious “jelly” pie that anyone can eat. Instead of the top crust I use whipped cream. But the cinnamon is a must! Haven’t tried the almond extract, but it could be yummy too :)

  9. Amber

    Wow! That looks even better than the berries tasted off the vine. :) Great fun picking with you! Now, I’ll have to try making this pie. Gorgeous!

  10. Caroline

    I tried this recipe (picture here!) but my pie came out kind of dry… any idea why? Maybe my grocery store blackberries just weren’t juicy enough? Your pie looks so good, and I had really high hopes for this, but it was somewhat disappointing.

    Sounds like your blackberries were a little dry to begin with. Recipes are just guidelines by the way. Fruit varies so much by batch, that it’s kind of hard to get it just right. Partly you have to go with feel, considering the batch of fruit you are using. You can always use less (or more) tapioca. Less if the fruit is a little dry, more if it’s liquidy. ~Elise

  11. Dona

    I made the Blackberry pie for 3 different occasions. It is s-i-m-p-l-y wonderful!!! I didn’t have the time to make the crust, so I used the refrigerated pie crusts instead. Whipped up an egg white together with a heaping “slosh” of Amaretto and brushed that on the bottom crust. Added the berry mix. Made a lattice crust for the top, slathered more of the egg white wash over it and then sprinkled cinnamon sugar over all of it. Each of the 3 times, it was totally “devoured.” 5 *’s in my opinion.

  12. Amy

    I’m wondering if raspberries can be substituted for blackberries. We picked almost 20 pounds of red raspberries and I’m running our of ideas.
    Thanks!

    Great question, I don’t know! Raspberries freeze well, and if I had 20 pounds, I would freeze as much as I could. They cook up so well with a little sugar into a lovely sauce for cheesecake, chocolate cake, or ice cream. ~Elise

  13. jenny

    I made this recipe last night. Everything but the almond extract. AMAZING!

  14. Kootenay

    Made this pie tonight with blackberries picked today. It was excellent! The combo of lemon, cinnamon and almond really liven up the blackberries, in a very subtle way. I also used afew drops of almond extract (due to lack of amaratto) in an egg white wash on the bottom crust. It was plenty sweet and the consistency was perfect, even when not completely cooled. It tasted even better once it was thoroughly cooled.
    I used 6 cups of berries because I like a thick pie and used a generous amount of crumb topping instead of a pastry top.
    Mix together 1/2 C white sugar, 1/4 C brown sugar, 3/4 C flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, cut in 1/2 C butter. This filling with the crumb topping was delicious.
    It took closer to 1 1/2 hours for the pie to bake completely and I covered it with foil for the last half hour or so. I highly recommend this version of blackberry pie and I’m pretty sure I will be making it again before the season is over.

  15. Christina

    Made this recently and it was so good!

  16. Stephen

    Well, I have to say that I found the recipe intriguing enough to have followed it to the letter. All I can say is I never knew of my Grandmother using cinnamon, almond extract, or lemon juice/zest in her blackberry pie….I now know why…. :(

  17. Kristen Kennedy

    I made this pie yesterday after coming home from the Farmer’s Market with way too many blackberries. It was delicious – thank you Elise!! And the pie crust was one of the easiest recipes I have worked with. What are your thoughts on using the exact same recipe and using blueberries, or any other kind of fruit? Do you think it would work as well or would quantities have to be changed?

    You could try it with other fruit. We have a good blueberry pie recipe on the site which is similar too. ~Elise

  18. Marsha Down

    Thanks for this delicious recipe. Last week, I tried a different online blackberry pie recipe. It was a disaster (ugly, soupy and sour). I am a novice pie maker, and almost swore off pies forever. I love blackberries though, so I decided to give it another try. The pie turned out great. I am in love.

  19. Heidi

    I will be making this for our Thanksgiving feasts we have been invited to. I scored 55 lbs of the sweetest blackberries on an amazing sale of $1/12oz. So I froze them all on sheet pans to keep them whole and then tossed them into freezer bags. Now I have enough blackberries to last over a year!

  20. Laura

    I picked fresh blackberries today and followed the recipe exact, but my pie was like soup! I have no idea what I did wrong. I’ve made all kinds of pies, although I have never made a blackberry pie, and this has never happened. What could I have done wrong? I have no idea??

    • Elise

      It could be that your fresh blackberries were particularly plump and juicy. In which case you would need to add more thickener. We’re using instant tapioca for a thickener in this recipe, but you could also use flour or cornstarch.

  21. Beverley M

    I’m planning to try this recipe tomorrow. Previous comments of “too dry” and “too soupy” have me wondering — how do you know if you have enough tapioca for your specific berries? Can you tell by how it is looking prior to baking or is it a learned skill to judge your berries versus tapioca requirements?

    • Elise

      Sometimes it is really hard to tell. If you can’t deal with “soupy” and don’t want to risk it, add more thickener. It also helps if you make sure the pie cools down entirely before serving it. Almost any pie warm risks being soupy.

  22. Quin

    Had 6 cups of juicy blackberries and I made this great pie. Next time I think I will leave the lemon zest out though, maybe even no lemon at all. It overshadowed the blackberry. It did set up very well though, clean cut peices, not soupy at all.

  23. Mark

    After picking lots ans lots of black berries this weekend it is pie time! I hope mine looks a great as yours! Hope you are doing well!

    • Elise

      Hi Mark, all is very well here, thank you! A note on the pie, if you include a few of the blackberries that still have a bit of red in them, they’ll help the pie firm up. Those red ones have lots of pectin.

  24. Leslie Vancil

    I made this pie last night, and it was amazing. My blackberry bush has gone haywire this season producing large quantities of blackberries. So far I’ve made jars and jars of preserves, a cobbler and a pie, but now that I’ve made THIS pie, I’ll be freezing whatever more blackberries I can get from the bush to make this pie throughout the winter! I used the pre-made boxed refrigerated pie crusts, but brushed them with melted unsalted butter and sprinkled with sugar. YUM-O!

  25. Susan

    I used your filling recipe along with another one. Yours used less tapioca which I believe was just right. There’s used more lemon juice which I liked. I have to say I did not care for the almond extract. I felt it took the freshness away from the berries. Not sure how else to explain. I think if I was making the pie in the winter I would like the almond. I plan to make this again in a couple days for my friend(minus the almond extract). I can’t wait!!! Thank you for sharing your recipe.

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