Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Last of the Summer Blackberries

Last time I went picking the last of the season's ash keys and the first of this season's elderberries. However, I've been very remiss in picking that hedgerow staple, the one wild food that almost everyone recognizes — the blackberry.

This year has been pretty poor for blackberries, the wet summer and lack of sunlight has led to an underwhelming crop. However, yesterday I did make my way out of the house and managed to spend two pleasant hours dodging showers and picking blackberries.

There is something very relaxing about blackberry picking (despite being stung by nettles and scratched). Maybe it's because it takes me back to my childhood, picking blackberries with my grandmother. Admittedly, this season's foray wasn't exactly as productive as the time I spend with my grandmother. But I did managed to get a big bowl full of the fruit. Enough for two roly polies or two large crumbles (recipe below).

I also found a stand of wild raspberries (basically garden raspberries that have gone wild and survived) and within the next few days I will be adding this to my list of plants in my Guide to Wild Foods. There were even fruit on the vines... and, like the good forager I am, I harvested them!

I also noted that the dog rose hips are maturing and reddening, hawthorn berries are softening as are rowan berries. So, for the next month or so I will have a new fruit to harvest every week. So, expect weekly reports of what I gather as well as recipes for how to use them here.

Today's recipe is for a classic blackberry crumble:

Blackberry Crumble

650g blackberries
80g golden granulated sugar
150g wholemeal flour
150g plain flour
150g butter
80g demerara sugar
2 tbsp butter

Wash and pick over your blackberries then place in the bottom of a pie or baking dish and sprinkle the golden granulated sugar over the top. Set aside for about 20 minutes for the sugar to dissolve into the fruit.

In the meantime sift the flours together into a bowl then cut the butter into fine cubes. Add to the flour mixture and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Now stir-in the demerara sugar and combine well before spooning the mixture over the top of the fruit, ensuring it's completely covered. Press down gently with your fingers to tamp down the crumble mix then dot the butter over the surface.

Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 190°C and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the blackberries are bubbling and the surface of the crumble is golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes then serve hot with custard.

These aren't the only blackberry recipes I have. If you want many more ideas for how to use blackberries see my List of Blackberry Recipes page.

You can find more information about blackberries and hundreds of blackberry recipes on the Celtnet Blakbery Wild Food information and Recipes page.

For all the wild food recipes on this blog, see the wild food recipes page.

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