Late summer and early autumn is the perfect time for blackberries, and you can find the fruit in abundance across the countryside. Our ultimate guide will give you tips on where to find them, recipe ideas and storing them to use at a later date. All you need to get started is a place to put the blackberries and country clothing for staying warm when out hunting for the fruit.
There are not many late summer activities that seem as typically British as foraging for blackberries in hedgerows. The brambles that grow the delicious fruit thrive all over the place, from woodlands to shrubbery at the side of the road, making the blackberry very common. The fruit is also a good place for beginners to start their foraging, as they are easy to recognise and simple to pluck. Read more about foraging here.
Batology is the scientific study of blackberries
The name might imply ‘batology’ is the study of the small, flying mammal, but that would be chiropterology. So, a batologist is someone who studies blackberries!
Eating blackberries makes you look younger
This is not a myth – blackberries are in fact rich in anti-oxidants that promote the tightening of tissue, making your skin less likely to wrinkle!
Blackberries were used to dye hair
In the 1600s, Nicholas Culpeper was a herbalist who recommended using blackberry leaf to use as a hair dye, which could turn hair black.
Blackberries could be confused with black raspberries
The blackberry can be defined by its white core, whereas black raspberries are hollow in the centre, like normal raspberries. Black raspberries are also a great find too, if you are lucky, and make excellent jams!
Unripe blackberries are red, not green
Blackberries are red in colour when they are not ripe enough to be picked, which makes them different to all other berries, which are often green when not ripe enough to be picked.
Where to Look
You can find blackberries in woods, hedges, heaths, roadside verges and even in your garden. Brambles are found in straggly clumps with prickly leaves that turn a reddish-green in the autumn. Blackberries should be a deep, purple black when picked, and are best from the end of August to early October.
When out on a country walk, be sure to have a tub or carton with you so if you do come across some ripe blackberries on the way, you have a secure place to put them. At home, make sure the blackberries are thoroughly washed before you eat them fresh or use them for cooking. If you are cooking them, leave the blackberries to soak in cold water and a little salt, which will kill any bugs.
There are many ways to use up the blackberries you pick, from crumbles and pies to sorbet and jelly! We have put together a couple of recipes for you to make, but there are lots more to try out!
Mini Blackberry and Apple Pies
Two or three cups of blackberries
Honey and/or berry jam
Sheet of filo pastry
Custard or cream to serve
Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Cut the apples into small cubes and cook them in a small pan with a little water until soft. Add the blackberries to the apples and sweeten with three or four tablespoons of the jam or honey. Cut your filo sheet pastry into six squares. Add a spoonful of the berry mixture into the centre of each square and fold the corners of the pastry into the centre to form a pie shape. Once folded, sprinkle the mini pies with brown sugar and space them out on a buttered baking sheet and pop them in the oven for half an hour or until golden. Serve hot with custard or cream.
Alternatively, you can use the pastry to make one large pie instead.
300g wholemeal flour
Put the blackberries into water and leave for half an hour to wash them. Strain and place the fruit in an ovenproof container and cover with half the sugar. Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in butter, then slowly add the remaining sugar. Pile the mix over the fruit and pop in an oven at 200C. Bake for 35 minutes. Serve hot with custard or cream.
Fresh blackberries last a day or two, but blackberries do ripen quickly and can lose their flavour and condition. If you have a lot of the fruit to spare, they are worth freezing. Wash the blackberries and set them aside to dry before layering them into containers and popping them in the freezer. When frozen, blackberries can keep for months, and all that needs to be done after is defrosting them. Alternatively, you can stew the blackberries with sugar, puree them and freeze or keep them in the fridge for up to a week.
What are your favourite ways to eat blackberries – in a jam, an apple and blackberry crumble or a recipe of your own invention? Let us know via our social media channels. Also, why not check out other recipes on our blog? You can find them here.