The Iconic Oregon Marionberry Didn't Even Exist Until 1948
Every year we look forward to marionberry season. These dark bluish-black gems are a unique Oregon treat. They’re a joy to pick and even more fun to eat. We can’t imagine a world without marionberry pie, but this beautiful berry didn’t even exist until 1948!
Marionberries are to Oregon as apple pie is to America, and we just can't get enough of them. These juicy berries are the most common variety of blackberry grown in the state, and up to 33 million pounds are grown here every year.
In the 1940s, George F. Waldo worked at Oregon State University. He was hoping to create a blackberry that was hearty and large but also flavorful. In 1948, he crossed a Chehalem blackberry with a Olallie blackberry...and the marionberry was born!
The new berry's name literally came from where its roots began. Mr. Waldo tested his first plants in Marion County, so he named the berry "marionberry." It's sometimes called the Marion Blackberry.
Most of Oregon's marionberries are still grown in Marion County and the Willamette Valley. They're harvested from late June through August.
Most large marionberry producers use mechanical harvesters like this one to get the berries off the canes. The huge machinery towers over the rows of canes, shaking them until the berries fall onto the catcher plates.
Smaller farms offer marionberries for sale in pints during summer months. At some places, you can even pick your own. There's nothing better than a fresh marionberry, straight from the field!
The marionberry has a distinct, complex flavor. It's larger and sweeter than other blackberry varieties, but has a tart finish.
In addition to eating them by the handful, there are many ways to enjoy marionberries. Buy some fresh jam, and enjoy the berries all throughout the winter months...
...or stock your liquor cabinet with marionberry-infused vodka.
Of course, marionberry pie is the favorite with many Oregonians, and you can make your own, or find it at restaurants and bakeries all over the state.
Oregon's own Tillamook Creamery makes marionberry pie ice cream! Berries are mixed into vanilla ice cream, along with pieces of pie crust. It's indulgent and delicious!
Marionberries are full of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and iron, so they're good for you, too.
What is your favorite way to enjoy marionberries? Tell us in the comments!
If you love indulging in some local cuisine, take a list of these
11 iconic Oregon foods that will have your mouth watering.
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