Wineberry Pie

Wineberry pie is a part of my “food culture,” to quote Michael Pollan.  My great-grandmother, who we called Grandma Rose, would make wineberry pie once a year, and we would all enjoy it while it lasted.  There’s a very short period of time each year between when the wineberries ripen and when the birds have eaten them all.  To take advantage of that time while it lasted, we’d pick the raspberry-like berries, being careful not to eat any (okay, we ate some), and bring them to Grandma to make her pie.  I remember making a wineberry pie with her one summer, probably when I was about 12 years old.  Rolling out the crust, mixing the wineberries with sugar and flour, using a fork to crimp the edges of the crust, cutting slits in the top to let out the steam, and being sure to place the pie on a tray to bake in the oven.  You see, wineberry pies aren’t officially baked until the rich, red syrup has bubbled over the edge.

In my botany class, when we learned to identify the plant, I shared stories with my fellow students about wineberry pie and Grandma Rose.  Everyone wished I would make them a pie, but of course it wasn’t the right season.  Interestingly, we learned that wineberries are an invasive species from Asia.  To learn more about the plant, you can visit this site.

The other night, I noticed the wineberries were beginning to ripen.  I made a date with my mom to go pick some, as I noticed quite a few growing up the road at an old, abandoned house.  We walked up the quiet road, picking berries, chatting and joking about what we’d do if a black bear came upon us.  Mom said she’d give it the berries, but I wasn’t so sure…  Then we saw a deer and figured we were safe, since if there was a bear around, the deer wouldn’t be there.  The birds hadn’t yet gotten to the wineberries, and picking went quickly.  Before we knew it, we had three quarts full and decided that was enough for today.  I’ve thought about freezing some, but I really enjoy that they’re only available once a year.  That’s what makes them such a special treat.

This afternoon, I turned the wineberries into two pies, one large one for my mom, dad and brothers, and a smaller one for me and Ed.  I have photocopies of Grandma Rose’s journals of recipes, and in her 99 1/2 years she was constantly cooking.  Most of her recipes are just lists of ingredients, with a baking temperature thrown in every so often.  The techniques and cook’s notes were in her head, so it is left up to me to fill those in.  Of course, nothing I make is the exact same as Grandma Rose’s, but my creations are always reminiscent of hers, which makes my cooking taste all the better.

Grandma Rose’s Wineberry Pie

  • 2 pie crusts
  • 1 quart wineberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3-4 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp butter, cut in small pieces

The ingredients are hers, but the directions are mine, the best I can do after a few years worth of trying to replicate her pie.  Put one crust in the bottom of a 8″ pie pan.  Combine wineberries, sugar and flour in a bowl, and pour into the bottom crust.  Dot with butter, then lay the top crust over the berries.  Crimp the edges, using a fork or your fingers, and cut slits in the top or a hole in the middle.  Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for about 40-50 minutes more, until the crust is golden brown and the red juices spill out.  Cool and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.  If you want to make a bigger or smaller pie, adjust ingredients accordingly (depending on how many berries you can pick).

15 Comments

Filed under Food, Outside, Recipes, Sustainable Living, What's for Supper?

15 responses to “Wineberry Pie

  1. Abbie,

    Grandma Rose would be SO proud of you – – – I know I am! I really enjoyed picking berries with you and am so glad we didn’t run into any berry-eating bears. I can’t wait for your Dad (and your brothers and me) to taste this! It looks absolutely scrumptious!

    Love,
    Mom

  2. What a wonderful memory. And the pies look just scrumptious!

  3. farmersdaughterct

    Mom- Thanks for helping me pick!

    Chile- The pies are good! Do wineberries grow where you are?

  4. Everyday woman

    OK, now it’s official…the pies do taste as good as they look–maybe even better!!! Yum, yum!

  5. I’ve never heard of them. Not a lot of berries grow in the desert. Occasionally, you might run across some blackberries in mountain canyons, but they aren’t native. They were brought in by early settlers.

  6. farmersdaughterct

    Wineberries are native to Japan. I so WISH that we had wild blueberries in CT, like in Japan. I guess I’ll just have to settle for the big, juicy blueberries that are cultivated here… Unless someone wants to pick some up for me while in Maine (hint, hint, Marie).

  7. F.W. Willis

    I learned to make the exact same pie from my Mom. I’m always surprised at how many people have no idea what wineberries are. I’ve also noticed that there seem to be alot more wineberries around than black berries anymore. I look forward to the one or two weeks each summer when we can completely gorge ourselves on the sweet, juicy berries while they’re still warm from the sun. Here in the shenandoah valley of Virginia they are EVERYWHERE. I believe wineberries are absolutely the best berry there is. They are juicier and sweeter than any other berry I’ve ever had. The only problem I have with the pie is that the berries create so much juice that you wind up almost making jam. I guess that’s not a bad thing though.

    • hungrymother1

      I had never heard of wineberries before this summer. A friend and I were backpacking the AT in PA and saw these berries but were afraid to eat them since we couldn’t identify them. Next time I won’t pass them up!
      I live near Fredericksburg, VA, but have not seen these berries around here yet.

  8. I am really enjoying reading your blog Abbie. It is quite addicting. I am also a Connecticution, but not raised on a farm (unfortunately). I host an online cooking show called Kitchen Caravan (http://www.kitchencaravan.com), and we often use CT local ingredients. I am especially excited that you are making your own ricotta. I should give that a try and let you know what happens!

    • Hi Sophia- Nice to meet you! I’ll have to check out your cooking show next week after my grad class is over. It’s consuming my life right now!

      Homemade ricotta is really easy to make… Try it! My goal is to conquer mozzarella this summer, in time to make fresh tomato pizzas with it.

  9. Glenn Strouse

    Hi I just found your blog. I was doing a search trying to identify what I now know to be the Wineberry. They are wonderful. I have tame red raspberry plants and I like the wineberry even better. The funny thing about these plants is this. I’m 48 years old now, and in my youth, I’d spend alot of time picking wild black raspberries for my mom. I don’t ever remember seeing these Wineberries back then. But as F.W. Willis commented, the wineberries have almost replaced the wild black raspberry here in Eastern PA. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Especially now that I know that these are an invasive species. But I do look forward to each summer when I can get these juicy and slightly sour berries. keep up the good work on you blog.

  10. Katharine Maroney

    Thank you for this recipe. We have been picking wineberries for years and just introduced my kids to them….they LOVED them. We are having people over and was trying to come up with a good (local) dessert….cannot wait to try the pie (we are huge pie lovers to the point we had them instead of cake at our wedding)

  11. We’re discovering how incredibly edible our yard is down here in southeastern PA. Wineberry is the latest surprise and subject of my latest post. Thanks for sharing your recipe. Looking forward to trying wineberry pie next summer!

  12. Dan

    You need to try making a “non-baked” Wineberry pie (aka fresh wineberry pie). This is simular to the fresh strawberry pies that people make with whip cream on top. My wife makes them for our family every summer when the wineberrys become ripe. I think she uses corn syrup and raspberry jellaton mixed with the fresh berrys to create a filling that stands up when refridgerated. This is the best wineberry pie I’ve ever had in my life.

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