Picking blackberries with the sun beaming down must be one of the most delightful occupations. As the children and I stuffed our bags and ourselves in the lanes leading to our leisure centre yesterday, two young lads looked at us in wonderment and one asked incredulously ‘Can you eat them?’ I felt like saying no as I’m pretty jealous of the blackberry seams I have identified locally, but the forager in me couldn’t help but reply positively and add the line that they were free food…he didn’t stop to try but perhaps he might in the future.
I didn’t manage to bring enough home yesterday to do anything other than freeze to add to the next lot, as my helpers brought theirs home in their tummies. We’re all very fond of blackberry crumbles etc in our household. Indeed, when Alice was only 1 and a bit, she’d stand in front of the bushes in the park and say ‘ba-ba’ until we’d give her them at this time of year! The advantage of crumbles is that the kids can knock them up themselves while I make dinner…or write my blog! Blackberries work very well in crumbles with apples, of which we have plenty at the moment, and elderberries too, which are fun to pick and use but can’t be eaten raw.
120g butter, 120g sugar, 240g flour. Rub all together or pulse in food mixer until it looks like breadceumbs, though it doesn’t matter if some clumps are bigger than others. Put the fruit in the greased baking dish, add a couple of spoons of sugar to taste, put crumble on top and bake until golden brown and fruit is bubbling through, about 40 mins. I find it useful to put a tray under it to catch any overflowing fruit as it really messes up the base of your oven!
Other recipes for blackberries include jam, with or without elderberries or apples; blackberry scones or muffins, blackberry cordial, and last year I tried making blackberry vodka like you’d make sloe gin, but it didn’t really work, sort of a waste of blackberries. I’m going to look up some other nice things to make, maybe something savoury like plum sauce.
As I’ve mentioned sloe gin, I remember this time last year collecting plenty and making it, some of which has lasted until now. It’s rather lovely to do the foraging required, again I have identified one particular bush in our local park that produces loads.
Last Autumn I also collected lots of rosehips. I made some syrup, which is simple to do and well worth it, Alice loves it on pancakes. However, it requires cutting up the hips…I didn’t know in advance that the insides were basically itching powder! I think I may avoid processing rosehips from now on, unless I dress from head to toe in some sort of body armour!
The only Autumn foraging I don’t do is mushroom hunting, as I don’t know how, which could be a bit dangerous!