Blackberries are found widely across Europe and North America, and are common here in the UK. They are the fruit of the bramble bush, which itself it generally considered to be unwelcome in gardens and either removed or extremely well trimmed back.
Blackberries may be out already in certain parts of the U.S.A. but here in the UK it will probably be August before we see them in the hedgerows.
Photo: Enrica Bressan
The best thing about blackberries is that no-one who lives in a rural or semi-rural area ever need buy them. In the house I lived in as a little girl there was a bramble hedge at the bottom of the garden. As we backed on to a large field the hedge was encouraged and kept in check with the added bonus of blackberries every year. I remember trying to make myself eat the sharp unripe red ones just for fun, for some reason!
Where I live now there is a little country lane a few minutes walk away which is awash with blackberries for most of August and September. I love to take a box down and fill it, come home and weigh it, and work out how much it would have cost me to buy in the supermarket. As 250g will cost say £1.99 it’s well worth it.
I can’t believe how few other people there are picking them; I have the whole lane pretty much to myself. One year I shared it with two elderly ladies. I think they did better than me as they cunningly brought their walking sticks with them so they could get to the higher up ones.
Of course there are hazards to picking blackberries so make sure you know the Rules of the Hedgerow before venturing out:
- Wear long sleeved tops and full length trousers and shoes that cover your feet – this will reduce scratches.
- Ensure said clothing is not your best – you will get scratches and snags.
- There will be nettles – but where there are nettles there are dock leaves
- Scratches and nettle stings are fair game – its the pay off for getting free fruit.
- There will be spiders. Many of them.
- The best fruit will always be just out of reach.
- Test your footing carefully – if you step too far into a hedge you may up down a ditch. The ditch will be full of nettles.
- If you eat as you go along check the berry carefully for maggots and bird doo-doo.
- Don’t pick berries from the bottom of the bush because they may have dog wee on. If you take your mother with you, she will remind you of this every single time
- When you get your blackberries home put them in a large bowl of water to soak. All the hedgy bits and any spiders and maggots will float to the top of the bowl.
Ways to enjoy blackberries
Blackberries can be eaten as they are and are great with an accompaniment of cream, ice cream or yogurt. If you have picked your own chances are there will be a few sharp ones so you may prefer to cook with them.
Here is a round up of blackberry recipes to check out. These are not recipes I have tried, they are merely a useful selection of links with yummy pictures that sound nice.
plum and blackberry batter cake
blackberry and coconut slice
crunchy apple and blackberry crumble
no fuss fruit tart
Nutritional value of blackberries
Not only do blackberries taste nice, they are good for you too, and contain antioxidants, and vitamins A and C. They are low in calories, and make a great sweet and juicy snack!