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Sharing Late Summer’s Harvest, Berry Picking Memories, & Mom’s Pieberry Recipe


Rule #1:

“If you want Mom to make pie, first you have to pick pieberries.”

Mom’s Everbearing Pieberries
(Champagne Raspberry Variety)

This is a rule that I learned early on as a lad. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of Mom & I riding around on backcountry dirt roads with Dad in his red Forest Ranger jeep, picking buckets full of wild strawberries and blueberries for Mom to make jams, jellies & pies with. I couldn’t have been much more than two years old at the time, because my brother Raymond had not even been born yet.

We filled our buckets with all kinds of berries; strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.

As a kid, black raspberries were always my favorite. We called them “black caps”. But for some reason black raspberries always seemed to be the ones hardest to find a good big patch of.

I was always Mom’s best berry picker. She taught me how to pick wild strawberries with the hulls & stems on to provide a soft cushion to keep them from getting all mushed up in my bucket.

I remember when I was four or five years old and we lived in Northville or Stanfordville, picking domesticated blueberries as big as my thumb. A man named Earl Brockway, who worked in some capacity for the Conservation Department with my dad at the time, raised his own blueberries. He had big lines of bushes loaded with berries all in rows in a big cage where folks could go in and pick their own berries.

Every year we picked several quarts for Mom’s freezer. Mom says I was the only child Mr. Brockway ever allowed inside his cages to pick blueberries.

Mrs. Brockway gave Mom her “Blueberry Pie Supreme” recipe, which Mom says, “Was good for other soft fruits as well.”

Soft Fruit Pie Supreme

(Courtesy of my mom & Mrs. Brockway)

Mix 1 cup sugar with 1/4 cup cornstarch

Stir in 1 cup water & 1 heaping cup berries

Cook & stir until it comes to a boil

Continue cooking 1 minute or until it is thickened

Stir in 2 heaping cups of fresh berries

Pour into baked pie shell and chill

Top with real whipped cream

(Homemade Pie Crust & Real Whipped Cream Recipes & Instructions Below):


Mom’s Pie Crust Recipe:

Mom’s Notes:

“A good crust can make or break a pie. When I was first married, I threw out many pie crusts in tears. This recipe from some old cookbook saved me. Following it carefully I could finally make a GOOD pie crust! Never mix more that 3 cups of flour at a time & only use COLD water.

“I use 1 & 1/2 cup of flour for a single crust. For a single crust, bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Then check. Bake for an additional 1-2 minutes at a time until lightly browned.”


Mom’s Real Whipped Cream Recipe:

Start with 2 cups whipping cream (or heavy cream, Mom says it’s the same thing.)

Whip cream until it starts to thicken

Add 2 teaspoons vanilla & 6 tablespoons sugar

Continue whipping until stiff peaks form


(Note to all kids out there- Be sure to be around to claim a whipped cream beater to lick. Fair warning though, to get one you might have to fight off your dad!)


I also remember going to the strawberry farms every spring, where Mom and I picked ten or twenty quarts of strawberries for Mom’s homemade strawberry rhubarb pies and freezer jam. My little brother was never much help. Mom & I would each fill big plastic trays up with quarts. My brother would get back to the car with one half empty quart, a big stomachache, and a face covered in berry juice.

We visited cultivated raspberry farms too, picking along rows of bushes filled with red raspberries as big as Mom’s thumb.

Once we moved to Saranac Lake and finally owned our own house, every August Mom & I would go out to Vermontville with her friend Jane and pick wild blueberries by the bucketful.

I also made money picking wild blueberries walking down the tracks towards Ray Brook. After filling Mom’s annual blueberry order, I sold wild blueberries to all of her friends for fifty cents a quart.

I usually carried two buckets when I walked down the tracks, one for wild blueberries and another for raspberries. Those tracks are gone now. Progress took them out. I wonder if they took the wild pieberry bushes out with them.

Another great spot for picking wild blueberries was out behind Dad’s office at the Ray Brook NYSDEC Region 5 headquarters.

After Dad retired in 1994, Mom & Dad sold the Saranac Lake house I grew up in and moved to Dexter, NY, so they could be closer to my wife Robin & I and the home we had purchased just outside Watertown.

I picked pieberries for Mom at their Dexter home too. She grew nice everbearing raspberries there, but had no luck growing blueberries.

After my dad passed away, we built an addition on our house and Mom moved in with us.

I built a series of gardens for Mom to tend here at our house, flower beds, raised bed vegetable constructs, and of course, her own private pieberry garden.

Mom supervised and gave instructions as I dug up an area of sod, backfilled it with a layer of gravel for drainage, cardboard as a weed barrier, then filled it with bags of top notch pieberry soil and topped it all off with mulch.

Mom’s pie berry garden. This is its 3rd year. Mom says next year her pieberry bushes should give us ten quarts.

I then put in a decorative split rail fence, a nice stone bench for her to rest on while she’s out pruning and weeding, and even added a pieberry bear for security!

Mom’s Pieberry Security.
Is hiring bears & rabbits to guard a berry garden like hiring a fox to guard the henhouse?

Mom planted several varieties, most “everbearers”. Though I’ve always thought the term “everbearing” to be a bit of a misnomer, as the wintertime pieberry harvest tends to be a bit on the slim side.

Mom’s “everbearing” red pieberries

Mom also planted a pinkish orange variety. I at first found these a bit tricky to pick, because my lifetime of pieberry picking tells me a berry is only ripe when it’s red. Not so with these, they are pinkish-orange when ripe, like champagne.

Mom’s champagne pieberries

In addition to red and champagne colored pieberries, Mom planted some yellows. She says they taste slightly sweeter than the red ones. They also thus far seem to be our most prolific fall bearers.

Mom’s yellow pieberries

This year was Mom’s new garden’s first pieberry harvest of note. Nearly every evening since the beginning of August, I’ve gone out and picked her a big handful of ripe berries, which she put in a big Ziplock bag in her freezer.

Alas, due to the tongue stealing ravages of cancer, I can no longer verify Mom’s pieberry sweetness comparison with my own taste test or share in the yummy fruits of our labor.

Now I can only savor the memory of tasting Mom’s pies,

and take satisfaction in the fact that I’m still Mom’s best pieberry picker.


Until Our Trails Cross Again:


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