By Makenna Adams
If you are a bramble fanatic like myself, you often find pondering over the notion of berry superiority. A ripe, ruby-red raspberry is always delicious, but how does it fare against a sweet, wild blackberry? Or, perhaps, you are an adventurous eater and you have tried dewberries, a luscious combination of the two. Better yet, you have tried a youngberry, which is a hybrid of all three!
In 1905, Byrnes M. Young bred the first Youngberry Morgan City, Louisiana. After failed attempts to produce a unique berry hybrid for several years, Young decided he would scrap what today is known as the Loganberry and try his luck with creating a completely different species. Forever fascinated by science and plants, Young reached out to a long-time friend of his, Luther Burbank, who had created a blackberry-raspberry hybrid called the Phenomenal’ berry. Considering the success of the ‘Phenomenal’ berry, Young crossed Burbank’s berry with another hybrid, a dewberry, which had grown well previously in Louisiana. Thus, the Youngberry was born, but remained unreleased for the ensuing 21 years, as growers continued to test the fruit. Because they grow well in warm climates, growers in New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa have more successful youngberry businesses than other places in the world.
Youngberries have a taste most similar to that of blackberries. In appearance, they bear a strong resemblance as well, though they are not quite as large. In size, they are more similar to a raspberry. With fewer seeds than blackberries, youngberries easily reduce down to make delicious jams, pie fillings and fruit sauces. Their tender interior makes holding a shape in baked goods like muffins or cakes difficult, they can be worked into a delectable syrup to drizzle over baked confections. Youngberries are particularly delightful when turned into a syrup and drizzled over cheesecake. To judge these glorious berries yourself, follow the Youngberry Crumble Slices recipe attached!
*I adapted this recipe from Donal Skehan’s Blackberry Crumble Recipe, in which I replaced blackberries with youngberries.
½ cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 large free-range egg
2 ¼ cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
½ cup milk
1 1/3 fresh youngberries
For the sweet crumb topping:
½ cup caster sugar
¾ cup plain flour
Zest of 1 lemon
⅓ cup butter
- Preheat the oven to 375℉. Grease a rectangular baking pan and line it with parchment paper.
- Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl, until pale. Add the egg, whisking to incorporate the mixture, little by little.
- Using a wooden spoon, fold in the flour, cinnamon and milk. Mix gently until you have a sticky dough.
- Spread evenly across the bottom of the prepared baking tin — this requires patience as the dough can be sticky, but bear with it and you’ll get there!
- Arrange the youngberries on top. Then, set aside while you prepare the sweet crumb topping.
- Put all the ingredients for the sweet crumb topping in a bowl and rub the dry ingredients into the butter with your fingertips, as you would with pastry. Keep mixing until you have a mixture that resembles rough breadcrumbs.
- Sprinkle the crumb topping over the blackberries in the baking tray and place in the oven on the middle rack for 30 minutes. Check with a toothpick to see if it is done; if still sticky, bake up to 15 minutes more. Look for the top to be golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing into 24 pieces.