VegBox Recipes

Blackberry

Blackberry Blackberries are in season from late August to October. They are best used as soon as possible after picking. Luckily they freeze well, so you can enjoy them for longer. Make sure you check out these delicious recipes.

In Season?
In season in August and September
Buy?
Don’t! Go blackberry picking with your kids or your friends. All you need is a container to bring them home with, an umbrella for hooking down tall spiky branches, and maybe some wellies to protect your legs. Look for berries that come readily off the bramble, but that aren’t already too squidgy.
Store?
Blackberries don’t store well – you need to use them within 24 hours of picking or buying, really.
Freeze?
Avoid washing them first – simply lay them in a single layer on a baking tray in the freezer. Once frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag or tub. The time to wash them is once they’re defrosted and you’re ready to use them.
Cook?
Great for baking in pies and cakes, and for turning into sauces and jams. Also of course just lovely as they are, or smothered in cream, or tossed into a salad…

More Blackberry Information

I have two enduring associations with blackberries. The first, going blackberry picking up a mountain in Scotland with my first boyfriend, Graeme, at the delicate age of nine. We ate everything we could reach, followed by ice cream. On the way down the mountain, Graeme decided to run. At the bottom, he threw up – it was lavender-coloured… Romance, eh?!

My second association is to the poem, “Blackberry-picking”, by ex Poet Laureate, Seamus Heaney… “For a full week, the blackberries would ripen. At first, just one, a glossy purple clot Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.”

The most important thing is to use them as quickly as you can after picking.

Some of the blackberries we picked last weekend went mouldy after less than 24 hours. So if you don't have time to use them, it's best not to pick them.

Avoid blackberries from near busy roads as they will be higher in pollutants than those from protected hedgerows.

Only pick ripe blackberries, which will come away from the bush easily, without having to pull.

We also have a household rule: only pick a fraction of the blackberries on each bush.

Why?

Two reasons:

  1. Leave plenty for the birds and other animals.
    After all, it's really their harvest and they need the fruit to get ready for winter.


  2. Leave some for others.
    Lots of people enjoy blackberry picking and there's usually plenty to go around. Yet there's nothing more disappointing than to find the bushes have been stripped bare. There are plenty of blackberries to go round, so pick a few from lots of bushes, rather than lots from a single bush.


One more tip:
  • Don't pick the bottom ones.
    Our blackberry bushes are along footpaths regularly used by cattle. The lower berries are treated to a regular rinse with mud and cow dung. Rain might wash off the visible traces, but I'm not sure I'd fancy eating them!

    I find the only problem with blackberries is cycling past the brambles every day and having the patience to resist picking until they’re truly ripe. I’m always so impatient, even though I know they’re not going to be ready until later into August. I made the mistake last week in fact, and came home dejected with ten very plump but very sour specimens. Mind you, they made a brilliant wash out hair dye for a streak of my fringe, so all was not lost!

    Blackberries are a wonderful source of vitamins and also, importantly, of cancer-busting antioxidants. All those little seeds in them mean that they are also a good source of fibre. And fascinatingly, they are rich in “salicylates” – analgesics of the kind used in aspirin.

    What To Do With Blackberry

    Some would say that the most important thing to do with blackberries is to check your emails on them while you’re out of the office.

    We think the most important thing to do with them is to wash them before you eat them!

    Because they’re quite delicate, I tend to pop them into a bowl of cool water and allow the dust, and sometimes the bugs, to float to the surface.

    That way, you can skim the grime off, drain them and pat them gently with kitchen paper or a clean tea towel.

    Little Known Blackberry Facts

    29th September is “Devil Spits Day”, the date by which you’re encouraged to have picked all the blackberries you want. You won’t want to pick them from the 30th September onwards, because on September 29th, Satan himself is said to spit on all blackberries (sounds a bit Python-esque to me). No-one seems sure why – one rumour is that, when he was cast out of Heaven, he fell into a bramble patch. Of course, another good reason for not going blackberry picking after September 29th is that what the birds (and the neighbours) haven’t already had off with, will be mouldy!

    Apple & Blackberry Crumble
    Apple and Blackberry crumble is a definitive autumn dessert. In this version, you save even more time by not peeling the apples or pre-cooking the fruit.
    Ingredients

    Serves 8

    • Filling
    • 2lb dessert apples
    • 500g+ fresh blackberries
    • 100g (ish) of sugar
    • Crumble
    • 200g plain flour
    • 100g butter (straight from the fridge
    • Extra 100g sugar

    Method
    1. Make the crumble topping:
      • If you have a food processor, put the flour and butter into the bowl and use the chopping blade to make the "breadcrumbs" - takes about 30 seconds

        OR
      • If you're doing it by hand, chop the butter into small cubes and add to the flour. Using your finger tips, rub the butter and flour until they resemble bread crumbs. Mix in the sugar.

    2. Wash the apples, cut them in half and remove the core. Then slice them and arrange them in the base of the crumble dish.

    3. Wash the blackberries thoroughly. Drain them well and then add to the crumble dish, on top of the apples.

    4. Sprinkle the sugar over the blackberries. There is no need to mix.


    5. Top with the crumble mixture, making sure the edges are sealed, so juice doesn't creep up during cooking and burn.


    6. Cook at 180 deg C for about 45 minutes, until the crumble is lightly browned.

    Serve with fresh, natural yoghurt, cream, ice cream or custard.


    Cupboard-To-Table

    About 1 hour.

    Suggested Blackberry Recipes

    Apple & Blackberry Crumble

    Apple and Blackberry crumble is a definitive autumn dessert. In this version, you save even more time by not peeling the apples or pre-cooking the fruit.

    Blackberry & Apple Syrup

    This is a delicious way of preserving blackberries and cooking apples. It keeps well in sterilised jars or frozen in pots in the freezer.

    Blackberry & Coconut Slice

    All you need is some dessicated coconut, cake ingredients and a bowl of blackberries from the hedgerows. It doesn't matter if they're a bit tart - it adds to the flavour.

    Blackberry Iced Tea

    This is so refreshing, and is such a treat to serve with lunch and to take out with you on picnics. Itís also a great alternative to nasty fizzy drinks from the supermarket, especially when your kids helped pick the berries themselves.

    Blackberry Smoothie

    Yesterday evening brought with it late August sunshine and a gorgeous and delicious walk in the local nature reserve, tupperware in hand!

    We came home with the first of several (hopefully) tubs full of tender, sweet, shining blackberries.

    We had some of them with apples in a pie, and this morning I just could not resist adding them to our morning smoothie - I HAD to see what the colour would be like.

    Wow!

    Bramble & Apple Jelly

    Go straight back to your childhood with this recipe, when you've been out picking wild blackberries and apples.

    Cosy Baked Stuffed Apples

    This recipe was suggested to us by our good friend Gill in London. It's a really comforting "old-school pud" that you can play around with, and which also works brilliantly for breakfast times.

    Elderberry & Almond Pie

    Elderberry and almond pie is a combination I would never have dreamed of. So I'd like to thank an anonymous friend in our village for sharing her family recipe with us. Thanks also to a reader, Pippa, for the photograph.

    Quick Blackberry Sauce

    This blackberry sauce recipe has to win a prize for being quick, easy and delicious.

    Simple Souffle

    So what is it about the word "Souffle" that strikes fear into the heart? When did souffles acquire the status of "that which is served at dinner parties only by the most accomplished of cooks"?

    Because the reality is, they're easy peasy!

    The only "critical" factor is getting your oven to the right heat and not opening the door to check it until 5 minutes before it should be done.

    Our favourite tip is the check for done-ness. Give the souffle dish a sharp shove. The souffle should "tremble gently" (poor thing!) rather than wobble. A wobble means more cooking time is needed.

    Here is our recipe for the basic souffle. See the "Variations" section for ideas on sweet as well as savoury fillings.

    Sweet Chestnut Chocolate Brownies

    This seasonally nutty variation on a chocolatey cake favourite is scrumptious and takes only three steps ... Three steps to heaven?

    Traditional Cherry Clafoutis

    This traditional French dessert is so incredibly easy to make, and yet it's remarkably elegant. Certainly, if you use ramekins to make individual ones, it's idea for dinner parties. And yet it's so simple, it's also brilliant for family pudding, and (this is a bit naughty) it's lovely cold for breakfast, with the excuse that it's a bit like having pancakes! Just don't tell anyone we told you so...

Got one? Send us your recipe!

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