Blackberry and Lemon Zest Muffins and saving the brambles

by Michelle

Like any farm in New Brunswick, I am dripping in blackberries. They crawl along the edge of most of the pastures. If left unchecked, they would soon fill in whatever space they found.  Last summer, as Ralph and I were reclaiming the pastures, I chose the blackberry brambles that I wanted to keep. All the rest were mowed down. Now to anybody who has had to fight with blackberries, you know that unless you pull out all of the root system the relentless plant will continue to thrive. Because of the sheer quantity of blackberry patches, we simply committed to keeping what we don’t want mowed.

Unfortunately, Ralph did not remember which patches I wanted and which I did not. I heard the tractor in the bottom pasture a couple of weeks ago and my blood went cold…a little dramatic but since I had already finished that pasture complete with carefully mowing around the best brambles, there was only one thing that Ralph could have been doing.

I ran to the top of the hill, frantically waving my arms around like a helicopter, trying to stop Ralph from completely desiccating this year’s crop of berries. Ralph practically mowed me down before he noticed that I was trying to get his attention. He turned the tractor off and gave me that big open smile that says, ‘didn’t I do a good job!’

Arghhh…When I had mowed that pasture, I had carefully backed the tractor into the bramble careful not to touch any of the long arching, flower laden branches. The pasture had looked lovely framed with three large graceful stands of sweeping blackberry patches.

Ralph thought that they looked ‘messy’ and wanted to tidy things up for me by straightening them. So he mowed them tight to the tree line.

What do you do except sigh and have a little ‘see the beauty’ lesson. We stood and looked at how pretty the remaining bramble looked and how sad the chewed-off patches looked – a little sarcasm remnant…

Happily the surviving blackberries are flourishing and waiting to be picked for my kitchen.

This muffin recipe was inspired by Sweet Harvest Market in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea.

Blackberry and Lemon Zest Muffins

makes 12

preheat oven 350*F

Grease 12 muffin cups

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 1/4 cup blackberries

zest of a lemon

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugars, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add egg, butter, and buttermilk. Mix gently until just mixed then fold in blackberries and lemon zest.


Divide batter between muffin cups and check at 18 minutes. Insert a wooden toothpick in the centre of a muffin. If they are baked, the toothpick will come out clean.

Thanks for reading.