It’s August. That means it’s blackberry time!
I grew up in Cloverdale, a town within the City of Surrey, about 30 miles from Vancouver. There are plenty of wild blackberries bushes around here. When I was a kid, my friends and I jumped into the ditches to snack on them. Sometimes we grabbed an ice cream bucket and picked them to bring home.
There’s never been a shortage of blackberries in the Greater Vancouver Area. Even today it’s common to see people park their cars on the side of the road and hop out to pick wild blackberries.
Sweet and sour blackberries?
The thing with blackberries is sometimes they’re soft and sweet. Perfect!
On the other hand, sometimes you pick what looks like a ripe blackberry only to discover it’s sour! Yikes! And we’re not talking the fun sour patch kids kind of sour. We’re talking pick another blackberry and stuff it in your mouth really fast and hope it’s a sweet one that takes the sour power taste out of your mouth!
Then there’s the blackberries that look just fine, and when you put it in your mouth it tastes like you swallowed a spider or something. You know what I’m talking about. That yuck, spit it out, nasty blackberry.
Sometimes blackberries fight back!
Ever since I was a kid wherever I’ve kept my horses, the pastures have tons of blackberry bushes. They grow on the fences or alongside the barn, so I’ve enjoyed free blackberries my whole life.
The farm where I keep my horses has blackberries growing all over the place. There are blackberry bushes growing along the barn wall, over the fences, in the lower pasture next to the creek, adjacent to the driveway, and in the upper back pasture.
I pretty much dismiss the blackberries growing near the driveway even though they look big and plump and juicy. That’s because it’s a gravel driveway and some of the people driving their cars along it go too fast and kick dust all over the place in the dry, summer months.
There are different varieties of blackberries too. The bushes closest to the creek have a lot of ripe blackberries right now, while the bushes closest to the barn are still mostly green.
Blackberry pie versus blackberry muffins
I used to make pie with the blackberries I picked. A pie needs four cups of blackberries, and it’s tough wearing boots, jeans and long sleeve shirts to pick them in the hot summer heat. It’s either overheat or get attacked by the brambles. I’d often pick extra blackberries and freeze them so I could make a few pies over the winter months.
I no longer bake pies. It’s the single syndrome. If I bake a pie, I’m going to eat it all. Can I trust myself to eat one slice and freeze the rest of the pie?
Today I’m sharing my skinny blackberry muffin recipe. Muffins are easy to bake and even easier to freeze. Stick them in a freezer bag and toss them in the deep freeze. We all know how that works. Take one out as needed and nuke it for breakfast.
My recipe for skinny blackberry muffins lists 1/2 cup cashew milk because that’s what I keep in my fridge. It has 25 calories per cup. That’s less than skim milk! Bonus – cashew milk is really creamy. It has a longer fridge life than milk too. So saying all that, I’m a big fan of using what you have on hand. But I highly recommend you go out and buy a carton of Silk’s creamy cashew milk if you haven’t already tried it. Just keep an eye on whether it’s sweetened or has vanilla because the calorie count increases. I buy unsweetened original cashew milk.
There’s also 1/2 cup white sugar in the recipe. I haven’t tried brown sugar so I don’t know how that will affect the muffins.
There’s one egg in my recipe for skinny blackberry muffins. I’ve used egg substitutes, both Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer and flax seed. The ratio for either of these products is one tablespoon powder mixed with two tablespoons of water. If you have eggs on hand – use one.
The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt. I usually keep vanilla Greek yogurt in the fridge cause I like to top off my chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal bake with it. If you have plain Greek yogurt, you may want to add 1 teaspoon vanilla to the recipe.
When I say 1 cup blackberries, I usually have an overflowing cup. I’d recommend not going much over that. I find 1 and a half cups blackberries is too much compared with the batter ratio.
A word on 1/4 cup of cooking oil, I use vegetable oil. Mazola to be specific. I screwed up one time and grabbed the olive oil and poured it in the batter before realizing I’d grabbed the wrong bottle. Olive oil in muffins is just fine. It has a stronger smell and taste. It’s not overpowering in this recipe. I just prefer vegetable oil.
You can use half a cup whole wheat flour plus one cup all purpose flour instead of one and a half cups of all purpose flour if you like. Sometimes I do that to make the skinny blackberry muffins a little healthier.
Start watching the muffins when the final timer goes off. The muffin tops should be golden in color and when a toothpick is inserted, it should come out clean. If batter sticks to the toothpick, put the timer on for another two minutes and check again.
After about 4 or 5 minutes on the cooling rack I use a spoon to tip the muffins on their sides in the pan to allow steam to escape. I leave them for another 10 minutes, remove them from the pan and onto the wire rack to cool completely. If I remember, that is! It’s OK to let them cool sideways inside the muffin pan too.
One final thought before we start baking, and let’s make it sweet! I use plain old white sugar. I experimented once with brown sugar and it didn’t do it for me. Maybe because my blackberries were a little tart and I needed more sweetener in the muffins, who knows. The muffins weren’t nasty, just not as sweet as I like. Taste is subjective. I think it just comes down to a person’s preferences. The brown sugar made the muffin batter more tan in color.
Here’s the recipe! You can click on the recipe card and click it again to see a larger version! Happy cooking!