Adorning the bramble bushes along our footpaths and country lanes, blackberries have been foraged for human consumption since Neolithic times.
A great source of vitamin C, blackberries start to become visible in our hedgerows as early as July but are at their most abundant in late August/early September; often lasting until the first frosts in late October, early November.
You will find blackberries make for rich pickings after periods of both warm sunshine and plenty of rain, with blackberry picking having become a well loved, Autumn-time pursuit in Britain.
Seasonal period: July to late October
Flavour friends: With such versatility, this hardy berry is extremely easy to cook with and complementary in both sweet and savoury dishes. A simple blackberry compote is not only delicious drizzled over ice cream or stirred into yoghurt, but also as a tart sauce for game such as duck or venison to cut through their rich flavours.
Blackberries also go particularly well with other seasonal fruits and berries, working perfectly with sweeter ingredients such as apples and pears. The earthiness of blackberries also make them the a great match for nuts, in particular almonds.
Buying, storing and preparing: When choosing blackberries, whether it been at a greengrocers or straight from the bush, look for plump, juicy berries that are shiny and tender to touch. Avoid berries that appear mouldy or overly soft, or picking from lower bushes that may have been visited by animals.
Plump and juicy, blackberries are delicious raw, straight from the hedgerow however when cooked they release their beautifully earthy juices. Delicately wash the berries and allow to completely drain before refrigerating or freezing. Consume within a couple of days if stored in the fridge or a couple of months if frozen.
Cooking: Blackberries are typically paired with other autumnal fruits and gently baked in a crumble or pie. Adding a sprinkling of sugar to avoid them being too tart, blackberries can be stewed, puréed and sieved to make a coulis, or cooked down to make bramble jam.
Words by Helen Upshall