Overloaded Shipment: Blackberry BBQ Beans and This Week’s New Arrivals

of the OPB”They aboundexplores the stories behind Pacific Northwest foods with videos, articles and this weekly newsletter. To keep you satiated between episodes, we enlisted food writer Heather Arndt Anderson, a Portland-based food historian and ecologist, to highlight different aspects of the region’s food ecosystem. This week, she’s got a recipe for Sticky-Sweet and Smoky-Salty Blackberry BBQ Beans.

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When Memorial Day was first celebrated in 1868, the Pacific Northwest was still the wild frontier of European settlers. That said, our region shared many culinary traditions with New England, as many of our early settlers came from the Northeast. Dishes like white beans slow-cooked over dying coals were as much a staple of the North West lumber camp dining room as they were on the North East supper table. Why was molasses used in early versions of baked beans? Keep reading to find out!

Freshly picked pieces from the Pacific Northwest Food World:

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Vegetables for African Refugees in Oregon

For refugees, the challenges of settling in a new country are not just about navigating a new language and a foreign landscape; an often overlooked barrier to integrating into a new community can be the simple fact of not knowing how to cook unfamiliar ingredients. OPB’s Jenn Chávez describes the challenges African refugees face maintaining connections to their traditional eating habits and how the non-profit organization Outrowing Hunger aims to address them by giving gardeners the seeds to plant a better future. (and better fed) in their new home.

Too much of a good thing

According to a recent post on the Portland subreddit, Schoch Dairy and Creamery in Hillsboro is facing a problem: Hot weather following a long rainy season means its pastures have become gangbusters and their cows are producing more milk than they cannot sell it. They had to get rid of their excess, which is a sin – their rich milk is preferred by small local cheese makers like Claudia Lucero of Urban Cheesecraft. If you want to do your part to help reduce waste, you can find Claudia’s ricotta recipe here, and use it to make our pea shoot gnudi.

Reader offers a touch of rhubarb sauce

Mary Beth James-Thibodeaux in Portland wrote after reading last week’s thinly veiled plea for help (ahem, “newsletter”) that after burning numerous rhubarb sauces in her own kitchen, her mother showed him the trick of using the microwave instead. (Cheryl Wakerhauser, pastry chef, cookbook author and owner of Pix Patisserie, also recommends the microwave for perfect pastry cream.) Mary also noted a difference in acidity between the rhubarb she grew eating on the California coast and in Oregon. Is it the terroir or the differences in rhubarb varieties?

Do you have questions or advice? Send them to us! Email us at [email protected].

Common sage, blooming in the author's yard.

Common sage, blooming in the author’s yard.

Heather Arndt Anderson/OPB

Good things in the markets

Go shopping? Expect to find sugar snap peas and alliums (spring onions are still widely available) as well as new potatoes and the reddest strawberries. French breakfast radishes, crunchy hakurei mini turnips and microgreens are there to embellish your salads; herbs bloom as well as edible pansies and calendula. Garlic is starting to bloom in the garden, but we haven’t seen any garlic flowers in the markets yet. Spring mushrooms such as morels and the very first porcini mushrooms of the season also rub shoulders with cultivated oyster mushrooms. Side Yard Farm posted photos of their succulent celtuce on their Instagram earlier this week – try finding some of this awesome lettuce (you might see it in Asian markets) to add some nutty flavor and crunchy texture to your stir-fries.

Blackberry baked beans in a cast iron skillet.

Blackberry baked beans in a cast iron skillet.

Heather Arndt Anderson/OPB

Memorial Day weekend is upon us, which means (in a typical year, when we don’t have heat waves in early May) the start of grilling season. While most people will break out the burgers and hot dogs, we’ll be here with this big old barbecue bean casserole made with Oregon blackberries. These are cooked in a cast iron skillet on the grill, not too different from how they would have been cooked on the stove top (the beans, salt pork and molasses would certainly have been up to par!).

An early iteration of the dish, prepared by Native Americans in what is now New England, was sweetened with maple syrup, but in the 18th century white settlers used molasses to avoid the British sugar tax. sugar ; we use brown sugar here (the molasses is still there) but you can use honey instead if you like. These beans are smoked, sweet and salty; if you want to make them vegetarian or vegan, just omit the bacon (use 1 tbsp cooking oil instead) and replace the soy sauce with Worcestershire, and you can bake them if the weather doesn’t cooperate not. For 8 people.

An earlier version of this recipe (also developed by Heather Arndt Anderson) appeared on the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission website.


2 slices of bacon, diced

½ medium onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup brewed coffee, black

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

3 cups frozen blackberries or puppets

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon of salt

4 cups cooked white beans (or 2 cans) Great Northern type, drained


  1. Preheat the oven to 275º (or if using the grill, shovel the coals to one side to create a cooler side for the beans).
  2. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet (or other heavy-bottomed skillet) over medium heat. Add the diced bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat is melted and the bacon begins to brown.
  3. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion begins to turn shiny and fragrant. Deglaze the pan with the coffee, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon, then add the rest of the ingredients except the beans and stir to combine.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until berries are tender and jammy. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, then stir in the beans.
  5. Bake (or place on the cool side of the grill) until the sauce is thick and bubbly, about 90 minutes.

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