What more sums up British summertime than a scramble through a blackberry bush clutching an empty margarine tub? Well, provided you’re not trespassing on private property of course! Blackberry picking is a great way of sourcing a cheap summer pudding for you and the family.
Like many things in life, the most successful blackberries will be ones that stand out from the crowd. They should be shiny and firm when you pick them, though fruits do seem to vary in flavour from place to place. Make sure you don’t pick blackberries off the floor, side of the road or from anywhere that might be contaminated. (I prefer my blackberries without dog wee on them!) Try not to stack loads of berries on top of each other or they’ll bruise and squash before you get them home. Use a couple of containers if you want to pick lots of berries. It’s always good to leave plenty for other pickers, too.
Blackberries are normally at their best at the end of August to September. By October, the damp weather will have certainly soiled many crops. Try to keep blackberries dry when storing and they should last for two to three days. If you’re refrigerating them, let them come to room temperature before eating, as they’ll taste much juicier that way. Don’t worry if you’ve picked more than you can handle – blackberries are easily frozen and can be baked straight from the freezer with no need to defrost. Freeze them on a tray in a single layer so they don’t all squish together, or purée them first then freeze the liquid in a bag or ice cube tray.
Now for the fun bit... What can we cook and eat? Below is a recipe for a blackberry crumble! Please not this takes one hour to make, and it serves six. Rated EASY.
YOU WILL NEED
· Blackberries (300g)
· Lemon (½, juiced)
· Golden caster sugar (150g)
· Ground cinnamon (¼ tsp)
· Demerara sugar (2 tbsp) For the crumble
· Plain flour (350g)
· Salted butter (175g chilled and diced)
· Golden caster sugar (100g)
1. To make the crumble, put the flour and butter in a food processor to make breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and a big pinch of salt.
2. Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Toss in your blackberries, lemon juice, golden caster sugar and cinnamon. Put in a large ovenproof dish and scatter over the crumble mix, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle over the demerara.
3. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden on top and the sauce is bubbling up around the edges. Leave to sit out of the oven for 10 minutes, then serve with custard or ice cream.