In Vermont, we call them “black caps,” and they are taking over my yard. This wild variety of raspberry is a native to the northern part of the United States and Canada. I have had great success growing them — so much so that they are almost out of control
My kind neighbor keeps bringing my attention to how close to his property the shoots are getting. The whole family has gotten together to pick the many berries after work. Our hands have the marks of prickers raking over them and my daughter’s stained face makes her smile look extra wide.
The past few years there has been a significant problem with the Spotted Wing Drosophila infesting raspberries and other soft fruit. This fly lays its eggs into the fruit, and when you bite in you are in for an unpleasant surprise: larvae.
The problem has been so bad, some farmers have stopped cultivating raspberries around here. I have yet to find the pest in my black caps which I suspect is because they ripen more quickly, possibly because they are native and are smaller, on average, than red raspberries. With fewer local raspberries around, having so many tiny black caps has been a real treat.
Even with just two small patches, I have been harvesting 2 or more quarts a day. I have been freezing quart bags full for winter baking and smoothies. We have been enjoying them fresh and in a mixed berry pie with the last of this year’s strawberries. We have also been eating a lot straight from the bushes. Our favorite use for black caps is in thick, long-cooking pancakes.
These pancakes are filling, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. When I make them, I use local yogurt, local eggs, local cornmeal, flour grown and milled in the U.S., and local black caps picked just 15 feet from the kitchen. Wholesome ingredients are what make these pancakes delicious. They take longer than most pancakes to cook, but the wait is worth it.
Yields about 20 pancakes.
• 1 cup all purpose flour
• 1/4 cup cornmeal
• 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp baking soda
• 1 tbsp sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup yogurt (any variety, any flavor you enjoy)
• 1 scant pint black caps
This thick batter can be mixed all together in one bowl.
1. Combine all ingredients except the black caps and mix thoroughly. Do not add black caps in the batter as they will break up and there will be uneven distribution throughout the pancakes. The batter will be thick and wet, but thin a little with milk or water is too dry. If you use a greek yogurt, the batter will most likely need to be thinned a little.
2. Cook on a griddle or shallow fry pan. These pancakes take a surprisingly long time to cook: 15 minutes or so. On a griddle set to 400 degrees. In a fry pan, set on medium heat.
3. Spoon out approximately 2.5 tablespoons (1.5 oz) or use #30 scoop or disher. After you have fit the appropriate number of pancakes on your griddle or in your pan, take the black caps and place them one at time on the cooking pancakes (approximately 6-10 per pancake).
4. When the pancakes look shimmery on top, flip them over. These pancakes take longer to cook than most, so do not rush them.
Enjoy with real maple syrup.
Click here to read more Real Food recipes from Katie Wilson.