Chow Town

Missouri blackberries are plump and ready to pick

Jasper’s Blackberry and Mascarpone Tart
Jasper’s Blackberry and Mascarpone Tart

It’s July and it sure is hot. That’s great for local growers because we’ve had a lot of rain. If conditions are just right, we can get a plentiful harvest of local blackberries.

I recently received my first local blackberry delivery from Diane Packingham of Canaan Fruits in Freeman, Mo.

Diane told me this may be one of her best years in the 10 years that she has been raising fresh blackberries. She is very proud that her blackberries are organic and pesticide free. Diane says that the juiciness of the blackberry depends on the amount of summer rain and this season they are plentiful and sweet as ever because of all the rain we have had.

The thorny shrubs on the Canaan Farm stand almost 6 to 8 feet tall full of these blackberries. Did you know that the usually black fruit is not a berry in the botanical sense of the word? Botanically it is termed an aggregate fruit, composed of small drupelets.

I was a little overwhelmed when I saw the flat of blackberries Dianne brought to Jasper’s Ristorante this past weekend. The beautiful juicy blackberries are the size of your thumb. But more than that, after just one bite you will see why I fell in love with these beautiful berries. They are as sweet as sugar and so flavorful.

I had first just wanted to serve the berries with some fresh local Shatto Cream. That’s a little too simple so I did a little research and worked on some different recipes for my customers including a sweet blackberry and Mascarpone tart and fresh blackberries with my mother’s famous chantilly cream.

Diane welcomes everyone to come pick fresh local blackberries in Freeman, Mo., right by Harrisonville. The address is 5705 E. State Route W. Make sure you call 816-616-4578 before you go. It’s an easy drive and such a great time for the family and make sure you say hello to Diane for me.

Believe me, the rewards of picking your own fruit and enjoying together at the table is well worth the drive.

Jasper’s Blackberry & Mascarpone Tart

Tart Shell

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup cold butter

2-4 tablespoons ice cold water

In a mixing bowl add flour, salt and cold butter until flaky. Add water and turn into a tart crust. Add to tart pan. Set aside.

2 pints fresh blackberries

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons orange zest

1 pound Mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup sugar

15 ounces ricotta cheese

2 eggs

Toss Blackberries with sugar and zest. Refrigerate. Mix all remaining ingredients in mixing bowl. Chill 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add cheese filling to tart shell. Place on baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Add blackberries to top of tart and serve.

Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. of Jasper’s runs his family’s 62-year-old restaurant with his brother. Mirabile is a culinary instructor, founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He is host to many famous chefs on his weekly radio show “Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen” on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM. He also sells dressings and sauces.