It’s been several years now having traveled to the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. It’s one of nature’s great playgrounds for many wind sports and one of mine being outrigger canoeing (we surf wind waves).
Blackberries grow wild everywhere in Oregon and Washington. Having been up and down this section of the Columbia River and loving these blackberries as much as I do, taking every second of every chance I get to pick blackberries, I have learned where all the good spots and best-growing conditions for blackberries are. A few years ago I made a blackberry preserve that was absurdly delicious when paired with vanilla ice cream. I love a good berry swirl. Of course, being someone who now is involved in the hot sauce industry I had to make a blackberry hot sauce. Typically most sauces people have made with blackberry are paired with the ghost pepper. At this time my garden had given me fresh Manzano and serrano chilis. Also, my friend John from Florida had been telling me about this great chili powder he got from his family in Bolivia. It had been a couple of months and in the Gorge, he surprised me with a good size jar of this Bolivina chili powder. I tasted it immediately and was overwhelmed with joy in how flavorful it is. In all honesty, being as interested in spices as I am I have to say that it topped Hungarian paprika for me. Now of course each pepper, every growing region has its own characteristics and qualities that give each product its uniqueness. I just so happened to love this chili powder that’s from the high altitude mountains in Bolivia. Naturally, I am a big fan of things coming together so I used this beautiful chili powder in the Blackberry Beach recipe. Speaking of, on the side of the Columbia River, in a nice sunny spot is where, with the help of my friends, we picked four gallons of blackberries. Sorry, but it's a secret locals-only spot and we picked only the ripest and best from the vines which makes this an even more special hot sauce. There is no comparison to store-bought blackberries because all berries go bad very quickly once picked from the vine so all the ones in the store are picked very early in their maturity. The flavor of these wild blackberries is indescribable. You can get them perfectly ripe, slightly unripe, partially dried, or fully dried. Each will have a different quality, the less ripe will be sourer, the perfect ripe will be perfect and undescribable in flavor, the partially dried will have a more concentrated flavor and the fully dried will reminisce the richness of fruit leathers.
Having had all of this come together and making this recipe with some of my closest friends, it truly was a great experience. This is one of my favorite things in life, sharing experiences, knowledge, and how everything just comes together right when it’s supposed to. That night Torri made a blackberry cobbler, I made a blackberry hot sauce and Jimi had the brilliant idea to try the blackberry hot sauce with the blackberry cobbler. Who would have thought but it was a perfect pairing that did wonders to my taste buds and nose. That was a mutual feeling amongst us, not just a mutual feeling between my buds and nose. The official tasting of Blackberry Beach occurred the next morning with breakfast. We made potatoes and eggs and it again proved to be delicious. The third thing I had the sauce with was on my long drive home. I drove a burrito about 700 miles for Miles (aka Kilo) and we smothered it in the freshly made sauce. This is another thing that I love about food, its memorable and brings people together.
Thank you for reading, that is the story of Blackberry Beach. Years of experience in a bottle.