Boysenberries: adding a twist to some old favourites
When we think of berries, the first to come to mind are probably strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or blueberries. However, there are other lesser known berries which are the result of cross-breeding these more well-known forms. The best known of these unique cultivated berries are loganberries and boysenberries. They are both hybrids, made from cross breeding blackberries with other berries. Boysenberries are believed to be a cross between a blackberry, loganberry and the raspberry, although some sources argue they are a cross between just blackberries and the raspberry.
The LA Times described that “to the uninitiated” boysenberries look like
like a big, blowzy, underripe blackberry, but it is in fact a noble fruit, as distinct from a common blackberry as a thoroughbred is from a mule. Large, dark purple, juicy and intense, it derives its unique flavour from its complex ancestry: sweetness and floral aroma from its raspberry grandmother, and a winy, feral tang from three native blackberry species.
Boysenberries are delightful eaten fresh, but are also a favourite for canning, preserving and used in baked goods, not just for their flavour, but because they do not last long after they are picked.
Who created the boysenberry?
Boysenberries are now mainly grown in New Zealand, and on the Pacific Coast of the United States from southern California to Oregon.
Historically, boysenberries were first cultivated by the Californian horticulturist, Rudolf Boysen (from whom the berry gets its name) in the early 1920s. They were then given to Walter Knott, a farmer, for large-scale development. Walter Knott is best known for his creation of Knott’s Berry Farm – one of the oldest and one of the largest theme parks in the United States, located in Buena Park, California. Originally a farm and nursery, Knott’s Berry Farm,
“grew berries, selling them from a roadside stand and to local grocers. Cordelia also sold her own preserves, relishes, and candy, and in 1928 they opened a tearoom and berry market, which in the 1930s evolved into a restaurant (known especially for chicken dinners) and a theme park initially featuring rides and a mining ghost town.”
It was Mrs Knox’s boysenberry preserves which were to make Knott’s Berry Farm famous and led to the family extending it from farm to theme park.
How can you use boysenberries?
The flavour of the boysenberry is a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry, and therefore combines the sweet taste raspberries with a tangy under tone of blackberries. The earliest use of the fruit was in preserves, like jam. By processing the boysenberry in this way its shelf life was extended well beyond the short few days that the fresh berry lasts.
Boysenberry jam can be enjoyed on its own like any jam: on toast, or as an alternative with scones and cream.
However, like other preserves, boysenberry jam can be used as an ingredient in several recipes. It can be paired with savoury ingredients such as Brie, but is perhaps most used in sweet dishes. Boysenberry jam can be used to make cakes, like a Boysenberry Jam or Lava Cake, or it can be combined with other preserves, such as lemon curd to create Ricotta & Lemon Curd Pancakes. For a simple dessert, it can also be used to make Frozen Berry Yoghurt. Your imagination is the only limit, wherever you have used other fruit jams, you can substitute Boysenberry jam, for a twist on an old sweet favourite.
Did you know?
Rosaceae is the scientific name for the rose family of flowering plants (order Rosales), which includes some 2,500 species, including: apples, almonds, cherries, pears, raspberries, and strawberries.
Blackberries: rebus, rosaceae & bramble
Blackberries (genus Rubus), are also from the Rosaceae family, and are also known as a bramble plant. Brambles are prickly shrubs occurring naturally throughout the world, especially in temperate areas. In many countries, Blackberries (and other brambleplants) are considered an invasive species; removed when found in native bush areas.