I LOVE this time of Year! When blackberry picking time comes around I get so excited. I do love summer but I love autumn more. It's such a beautiful time ... the colours, snugly blankets, fires, hot chocolate and BLACKBERRY AND APPLE CRUMBLE! we're also allowed to get a bit fat as we need the warmth : ) I realise I haven't talked about craft much lately but I'm just too distracted by the pick n' mix of berries in our hedgerows at the moment. Thanks to a glorious summer the bushes are jam-packed (see what I did there?) with fruit this year which means? ... 'one for me, one for the basket, one for me ...'
It's great fun for ALL the family and gets kids off their ipads and out in the fresh air. Even the men love it - they may resist at first but once they get started they soon get taken over by their inner hunter gatherer. (Just don't make them carry a basket). So grab your baskets and let's get picking before ol' Mrs Miggins gets there first!
Where to find the BEST blackberries
Top tips for blackberry picking!
DO ... keep your legs and arms covered!
Blackberries are almost always surrounded by nettles (I learnt this the hard way) and you don't want the little ones crying before you've even started. Rubber gloves might be handy too.
DO ... take a basket or box
rather than a carrier bag so they don't get crushed. Don't overfill or pack them down as they crush easily.
DO ... take a tall person if poss!
ALL the best berries are high up, and use a stick to get in between the stems. If you bend down and look up into the plant and you'll find lots of berries that others will have missed.
DO ... Avoid blackberries with holes
- it could well mean that something's already inside lunching on it and if the berry has lost its shiny sheen it's also past it's best.
DON'T ... pick next to a busy roads
Aside from the obvious dangers we don't want exhaust fumes over our berries.
DON'T ... pick from the lower branches
We don't want any unwanted 'doggie' flavourings!
DON'T ... take every berry in sight
Berries are a treat for us, but to the birdies and other creatures it's a means of survival so we must leave some for them.
DON'T ... eat them straight off the bush.
I LOVE eating them straight from the bush (best bit about it!) but having seen so many fruit flies sitting on them, and finding little worms that can't always been seen at first I refrain now.
Having said that, it still might not stop me ...
Preparing your blackberries
As soon as possible after picking and don't wash the berries until you are ready to use them or freeze them. If you intend to eat them fresh do so within a few days.
Remove any mushed, soft or rotting berries.
Rinse and soak in a pan for a while (draws out any little unseen bugs. You can add a little salt to the water though it's not necessary.)
Give them a final rinse and drain.
Then either use them asap or freeze.
The best crumble recipe I've ever tasted is Raymond Blanc's Apple and blackberry crumble. It's simply delicious. I could easily sit and eat the crunchy crumble topping on it's own in one sitting (which I did ... then tried to pass off the bowl of cooked fruit as a compote). The recipe is available in his book 'Kitchen secrets' or it's available free online at bbcgoodfood.com
Big brother's blackberry milkshake
I have it on very good authority (my big brother) that this is SUPER YUMMINGTON.
half cup blackberries
half cup Ice cream
half cup milk
Blitz and enjoy!