We all moan about brambles taking over our verges, sometimes our gardens and precious plants, but have you ever looked beyond the thorns? These bushes (for want of a better name) bear the most delicate of blossoms, attracting bees that pollinate them and produce that most delicious of health foods, honey. And once the petals have fallen, one of nature’s most abundant fruits, the blackberry forms, slowly developing and ripening into the succulent and sweet berries we can use to make jams, jellies and fruit desserts, either on their own or with another fruit, such as pears or apples. What better way to enjoy an afternoon than going brambling, getting some late summer sun, a good dose of fresh air, the sound of birds and sighting butterflies, dragonflies and the like! (Even a brush with s stinging nettle can teach us to open our eyes more widely and then seek out the ever nearby dock leaves to help ease the sting)
Once home, a soak in a deep bowl of water will sift all the unwanted debris (and any maggots!) to the top, drain off and you will be left with just the berries. Discard any that you feel are not at their best (if you put them in the garden the birds will often finish these off and thank you for the easy feast!) and then decide how you will enjoy the fruit.
Here are some ideas for using blackberries:
- A simple crumble
Stew some windfall apples or pears with a little water and sugar if desired, until soft, in a covered pan – watch carefully that the pan doesn’t burn! Remove from heat and taste – add more sweetener if desired.
Weigh 150grams flour (plain or wholemeal or mixture of both), 90grams butter and 90grams brown sugar, mix together with hands to resemble fine breadcrumbs (or use a stick blender or mixer to do the job for you!), put the fruit in a small ovenproof dish, cover with the crumb mix and bake at approx. 180C for 20-25 mins until golden brown.. Serve with your choice of yoghurt, creme freche, cream, custard or ice cream. Lovely served hot or cold!
or you could
- Mix with yoghurt and freeze in ice lolly moulds
- Add to milk shakes/make smoothies
- Simply enjoy with yogurt or ice cream
- and of course, delicious blackberry jam…………….
Your imagination is your limit!
PS: if eating while picking, try and go for ones that have a green centre and not ones that are red or that you can’t see. When this bit is red, it could be because a maggot has eaten through the stalk and may still be lurking inside. While extra protein may not be bad, I’m not that keen on eating those myself or letting the kids eat them!
Post and recipe by Marian Brooke.
What is your favourite thing to make with blackberries?