From Plot to Plate: Blackberries
Planting a blackberry bush is something you will probably never have to do. All of us, I think, either has swathes of bramble in their garden/ allotment/ patch of green space vaguely near them or knows someone that does. After all untamed blackberry bushes are somewhat a nuisance with their prickly stems, staining berries and ability to just grow anywhere. I have fond memories of blackberry picking as a kid in my parents back garden, hands stained purple from overzelaous picking and more recently snacking off the bus whilst we’re walking (it was on the same walk I discovered I really do not like Damsons!) There is however a difference between the wild bramble and cultivated varieties of blackberry, the latter are bred to bear reliably large and sweet fruit and can even be thornless!
Blackberry harvest is usually late summer through to early autumn. Ripe berries are dark, plump and juicy and come off the stalk easily. I’ve never known there not to be an abundance of blackberries and I think the variety of things you can do with them shows this. Pies, crumbles, all sorts of desserts, jams, jellies, coulis or just fresh in a bowl, and even when you have run out of ideas you can always freeze them. However something I’ve always been tempted to try is preserving them. In Gin. Having never done this before I’ve borrowed a recipe from a friend’s mum.
Hopkins’ blackberry Gin Liqueur
450g (1 lb) blackberries
350g (12oz) granulated sugar
750ml (1 1/4 pts) gin
place blackberries in a container you can seal
add gin and sugar
stir/ shake until well blended
store in a dark cupboard and shake every day for a month
keep in dark cupboard for a further 3-4 months and shake occasionally
Sterilise the bottles you will be storing the final liqueur in
strain liquid through a sieve
pour liquid into bottles through a sieve lined with filter paper
fit lids and label
note from my friends mum; the strained fruit is delicious with ice cream, if a little bit wicked!!
Stay tuned for the finished product in a few months time.
In British folklore it is said that you should not pick and eat blackberries after Old Michaelmas Day, which is the 11 October, as the devil will have made them unfit to eat. He would do this by stepping, spitting or fouling on them. The tale says he does this as the 11 October was the day the devil was kicked out of heaven and he landed on a blackberry bush and thus ruins them from everyone else after this date. The legend holds some truth as the wetter the weather gets the more susceptible they are to mould and in any case the flavour begins to fade.
Peas, love & cider,
what am I eating this week
broccoli, courgettes, apples, beetroot, potatoes, onion, stews & hotpots