Blackberries

The humble Bramble or Blackberry can be found in hedgerows from early September to early October.  This versatile autumn fruit is packed with goodness.

Blackberries

Blackberries fresh fron the hedge

Dark purple, almost black fruits, similar to a Raspberry, are borne on thorny plants which climb their way through hedges and scrub.

Blackberry fruits are highly nutritious, being packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants as well as Ellagic acid, which is thought to provide protection against some chronic diseases and cancers.

The seeds are a good source of fibre and contain salicylates, a natural pain killing substance, forms of which are used in the common drug Aspirin.

During the first World War, soldiers were given blackberry juice with many of the fruits collected by schoolchildren, who were given time off school the harvest the berries.

Many wildlife species rely on the Blackberry for food and the thorny stems provide protection for insects and birds.

Bramble stems were also used in traditional crafts such as basketry and forming screens for crop protection.

Blackberries are native to Asia, America and Europe, with records of their use in Europe dating back to 8,000 BC.

Harvesting blackberries

Harvest Blackberries on a dry day and avoid squishy or damaged ones.

Wear good sturdy shoes or boots, as Brambles can grow in some awkward places.  The thorns will hook into you or your clothing quite easily and the juice will stain anything it touches purple, so make sure you don’t wear your good clothes.

Take a stick with you, something with a curved or hooked end will help you sort through the branches and bring fruit closer to you.

Keep and eye open for stinging insects. Blackberries are a good food source for many species and wasps are active during early autumn.

A solid container or bag will be needed to carry your harvest.

Storing blackberries

Make sure the fruit is dry, put them in the fridge and use within a couple of days. If eating straight away, put the fruits in a bowl of cold water to allow any insects to come out.

Blackberries are good for freezing but must be frozen dry, so don’t wash the fruit first.  Spread them evenly in a single layer on a tray and place in the freezer for a couple of hours.  Once frozen, they can be transferred to freezer bags or containers.

Cooking with Blackberries

Blackberries can be used to make jams and jellies and are a good partner for apples.  They can easily be combined with other forest fruits, apples or raspberries in pies and puddings.

If you are into making your own alcohol, then Blackberries can be turned into wine and liqueur.

Blackberries vary in sweetness, some will require the addition of sugar and some will not, so always test first.

Blackberry recipes

Bramble jams and jelliesBBC Good Food,   Great British Kitchen,

UKTV – Various Bramble recipes.

Bramble Sauce – Food.com version with duck but it is also good with Venison.

Blackberry Wine – Wine recipes from Wine Making Guides.

Gunther Anderson.com – Blackberry Liqueur and lots of other interesting recipes.