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Marionberries, The Queen of Blackberries

July 6, 2011

The marionberry is a very special blackberry. I was introduced to marionberries by my sister, Katie who lives in Oregon.  My parents obtained starts from her in the 1980’s and they thrived in their San Clemente garden. On summer visits, my mom delighted us with marionberry cobblers and we savored her jam during the rest of the year. It is my favorite jam. Seasonally, there were always plenty of marionberries to put on our cereal in the morning or vanilla ice cream in the evening. Good memories of marionberries and my Mom.

This month’s Sunset Magazine featured marionberry pie in an article on summertime road food favorites. Now I know why the marionberry is so large and flavorful. Here’s an excerpt from the article.

The Queen of Blackberries Like a top racehorse, the marionberry owes its winning qualities to careful breeding.  Developed by the USDA in the 1950’s at Oregon State (it was tested in Marion County, hence the name), the marion has the aromatic raspberry notes and soft seeds of a native Western dewberry, the classic blackberry flavor of an olallie, and the vigor of a wild Himalayan blackberry. One drawback: The fresh berries don’t travel well. Luckily, frozen ones are widely available, and they make great pie.  For sources, check stahlbush.com/store-locator.

You’ll find the recipe for Anjou Bakery’s marionberry pie here. Check the Stahlbush Island Farms website to read about their commitment to sustainable agriculture in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. (For San Diego readers, OB People’s Food Co-op and some Henry’s stores carry their marionberries). 

  Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the marionberry harvest in my garden.

In Season: July

Advice from a Kitchen Garden Designer