By Makenna Adams
If you are a bramble fanatic like myself, you ponder the notion of berry superiority. You think to yourself, “Ripe, ruby-red raspberries are always delicious. As are plump blueberries. But how do they fare against sweet, wild blackberries? What about succulent huckleberries?” I’ve personally wrestled with this idea at length, and have concluded that all berries possess unique qualities that make each one fit for a specific occasion (obviously.)The solution, in my opinion, to selecting the best berry when given many choices, is to opt for a hybrid. Perhaps, you, an adventurous eater, have already arrived at this conclusion yourself. Maybe you’ve tried dewberries, a luscious combination of blackberries and raspberries. Better yet, you’ve tasted a yummy yummy youngberry—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 young berries grow well in warm climates, growers in New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa have the most successful youngberry businesses 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 reduce down easily to make delicious jams, pie fillings, and sauces. Their tender interior makes holding a shape in baked goods like muffins or cakes difficult, though they can be turned into delectable syrups to drizzle over baked confections. Youngberries are particularly delightful when made into a syrup and drizzled over pancakes; this is how I first tasted them for myself, at a quaint tea house. 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-rising flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
½ cup milk
1 1/3 fresh youngberries
For the sweet crumb topping:
½ cup sugar
¾ cup 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.