Oh my days we’ve had a lot of blackberries this year! One of the best things about our plot is the fabulous thornless Blackberries we inherited when we took the plot over. I don’t know what variety they are, though plot neighbours guess at ‘black satin’ or ‘black lace’ (what the 80s pop group?). But I’ve found little reference to either commercially. Whatever their name they are fruit superstars at 18a! They fruit their little socks off from mid-late July right through to the frosts. And boy are these beauties prolific! With 4 plants and around 13 canes between them they keep us occupied picking, eating, freezing and jamming for weeks.
Thornless Blackberries are marvellous. No vicious prickles. Breed to be big, juicy and abundant! And abundant they certainly are. As much as we try we can’t pick and use every single berry, it’s impossible. We don’t net the canes as what the birds take really is minimal to the amount we pick. On average for example in past weeks I’ve been bringing home roughly 3 to 5 Kg of blackberries. So whatever the birds, rats, mice, squirrels, Ray the little boy on the back plot and cheeky passersby takes is no bother. The only real pain in the neck is those goofy wood pigeons who seem to be deluded about their body weight, dangling precariously from the canes snapping many, including next years canes.
So what’s a girl to do with all these berries? Well I’ve been jamming, freezing, flavouring gin and making compote until I’m blue in the face.
Here’s a few of my favourite recipes:
100g of sugar
- Pour two thirds of the Berries into a blender or food processor along with the sugar. Blitz until puréed.
- Sieve the purée into a saucepan.
- Into the sieved purée add the remaining berries and gently heat through the compote until the whole berries have soften.
- Allow to cool before serving or storing. We love to this compote on Muesli or drizzled over ice cream. It’s great to freeze for the colder months for a little taste of late summer on your porridge.
Blackberry & Apple Jam
300ml (1/2 pint) water
350g cooking apples or eating apples (prepared weight)
- Pick over and wash the blackberries, put them in a pan with 150ml of water and simmer slowly until soft.
- Sieve to remove pips.
- Peel, core and slice apples and add the remaining water. Simmer slowly until soft and make into a pulp with a spoon or potato masher.
- Add the blackberry puree and sugar, bring to the boil and boil rapidly, stirring frequently, until setting point is reached.
- Test for set by cooling a little of the mixture on a cold plate (I pop it in the freezer for a bit)
- When ready stir or skim off the skin. Pot into warm jars and cover.
1ltr Kilner Jar
Bottle of good Gin of your choosing
Blackberries washed and dried
- Fill your kilner jar a third full with the blackberries.
- Pour the sugar over the berries to half up the jar.
- Pour in the gin to the top of the jar and close your kilner jar.
- Shake gently to mix the gin an sugar.
- Store in a cool dark place for around 3 months (patience young gin padawan). Shaking the mix every day to help the sugar to dissolve.
- After a couple of months strain the gin through a jelly bag or muslin to remove the berry fragments. Return the strained berries to the gin and leave for another month.
- After the maturing period, conveniently Christmas, strain the gin and dispose of the berries (compost of course!) and crack open and enjoy. May I suggest with tonic water and few sticks of cinnamon.