Camping is a favorite summer pastime. My childhood memories are full of dewy tents, mosquito bites, campfire smoke, s’mores and smiles. Cooking over the campfire is part of the thrill of living amongst the trees. There are many ways to add adventure to your next meal, like foraging for your own wild berries to make a cobbler.
Here in Minnesota, berry picking is allowed in state parks as well as state and national forests. July is prime berry picking time in central Minnesota, while it hits in August in the northern part of the state. But much like favorite fishing holes, wild berry patches are coveted, so you may need to do some scouting (or even bribing!) to find a good spot. One of my favorite places for wild berry picking is Afton State Park. If you’re in a state park, the ranger likely will happily point you in the right direction. All you need is a good pair of hiking boots, some thin hiking pants to avoid a brush with poison ivy, and a small bucket. Wild raspberries like a lot of sunshine, so you can often find them in open woodlands, along a stream bank, or at the edge of a campsite or hiking trail.
It’s important to make sure you know exactly what you are picking and eating. Wild red and black raspberries resemble the grocery-store variety, but it’s best to bring along a berry picking guide to ensure they’re safe to eat. And because these berries are wild, you should check them for small insects and give them a good gentle wash before you consume or cook. Picking wild berries is like a family scavenger hunt for your dessert. Grab a bucket, get the kids involved and enjoy the fruits of your labor over the campfire.
Wild Raspberry Cobbler
6 cups wild raspberries
½ cup sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
¾ cup flour
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup chopped almonds or hazelnuts
½ tsp. lemon zest
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter
1. For the filling, toss raspberries, sugar, flour, lemon juice and salt in a medium bowl.
2. For the topping: Combine brown sugar, flour, oats, nuts, lemon zest, cinnamon and salt in a separate bowl.
3. Over the white-hot coals of a campfire (or on the metal grate/cover), melt butter in a 9-inch cast iron skillet. Pour melted butter into topping mixture and stir until incorporated and clumpy.
4. Spread filling in an even layer in cast iron skillet then sprinkle over topping. Cover with a double layer of foil, crimping edge to seal.
5. Return skillet to campfire coals and cook 30 to 45 minutes, until berries are cooked and bubbling, and topping is golden brown. (TIP: If you prefer a crispier topping, add a couple white coals on top of foil.)
6. Serve immediately with ice cream, Greek yogurt or whipped cream.
Laura Schara is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast and cohost of the television series Minnesota Bound. You can find her blog at wildlyliving.com.