Blackberries on July Menus

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, July 21, 1913:  Picked blackberries this morning and rather enjoyed it. My time seems very much occupied these days. I help load hay, which I really don’t mind so very much and then there is my music to keep me busy and some other things.

Source: Good Housekeeping (July, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Mmm, blackberries. . .  A hundred years ago, berries and other fruits were only available for a few weeks a year when they were in season.  The July, 1913 issue of Good Housekeeping provided menus for the month.

Two of the July menus included blackberries. Note how blackberries are served for both breakfast and dinner on the Thursday menu. 1913 July menu

Even in the mid-1900s people still primarily ate seasonal foods. I can remember being so excited when I was a child when the first blackberries . . . or strawberries. . . or raspberries came into season. And, then we’d have a plethora of berries, and we’d eat them two or three times a day for the next week or two. By the end of the season, I never wanted to see another berry again—but by the time the next year rolled around I’d again be anxiously anticipating the ripening of the first berries.

35 Responses

  1. Love this. Love your blog. Thanks

  2. I had to look up shirred eggs. Not sure if that is too common of a term today.

    • Your comment made me google “shirred eggs.” They look like something I’d like. Maybe I’ll try making them next week-end. :)

  3. is steamed blackberry pudding like those served during Christmas?

  4. Our blackberries not ripe yet, but given another day or two, there will be plenty. In many ways, modern trade and commerce has taken some simpler pleasures away. Continual,abundance is not always a goof thing.

    • I totally agree that continual abundance of blackberries (and other fruits and vegetables that should be seasonal) throughout is not always a good thing.

  5. Blackberries are ready in September in the UK so I suppose it is a seasonal thing…..I am reminded of blackberry picking trips along hedgerows as a child and my children with my Mum too years ago. Thank you

  6. We love blackberry cobbler this time of year.

  7. Even though we can get foods out of season now, fruit and veggies still have the most flavour in season, don’t you think? My mouth has been watering with every thing I’ve made in the last little while with fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs!

    • Yes, I also think that fruits and vegetables have the most flavor when they are in season. I picked cherries and black raspberries earlier this evening. They were awesome. :)

  8. I like the menu. I assumed that “new” cabbage and “new” potatoes would mean today freshly picked.

    • Yes, I think “new” means freshly picked–as compared to “old” potatoes or cabbage that had been stored over the winter months.

  9. We have wild blackberries that invaded my skimpy raspberry patch so I pick them all together (the dozen or so :) ) and enjoy them both. Our blueberries will be ripe soon. Thank God for freezers because I can only take so many fresh blueberries (not a big fan no matter how much I try!).

  10. Sounds as though Grandma’s having a busy summer. She doesn’t seem to be “sick at heart” as she was earlier this month!

  11. There’s nothing better than homemade blackberry cobbler, hot from the oven.

  12. Love blackberries–especially in cobbler, just like Mary!

  13. Steamed blackberry pudding sounds so good. Even though we can get most berries all year round in the supermarket, I tend to gorge on freshly picked berries when they are in season and then forget about them for the rest of the year. I prefer it that way.

  14. I would still go for that menu! And what an elegant al fresco dinner company: great post, I really enjoyed it! Thank you

  15. Like you, I have wonderful childhood memories of blackberries. We would pick them from where they grew wild, at the end of our street, and my mum made the most delicious blackberry pies. Ahhhhh, memories; ahhhhh blackberries! :)

  16. I truly never tire of blackberries – served any way at all. But they say you should eat everything in season nowadays too – much healthier than produce that has been picked green and shipped long distances. :)

  17. She mentions music…she was taking piano lessons, right? It’s been a long time since I’ve been on your blog.

    • Yes, she was taking piano lessons–but I’m not sure how serious she was about it. And, I don’t remember her ever playing the piano as an older woman. There were definitely long periods in the diary when she doesn’t mention them.

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