I have to agree with Hannah Williams, when she says, ... Few things sum up British summertime better than a scramble through a blackberry bush clutching an empty tub ready to fill! And, provided you're not trespassing on private property, blackberry picking is a great way of sourcing a cheap summer pud.
Crumbles and pies aside what can you do with the bountiful berry? Here are some top tips for handling all that free fruit...
Like many things in life, the most successful blackberries will be ones that stand out from the crowd. They should be shiny and firm when you pick them though fruits do seem to vary in flavour from place to place. Seasoned blackberry hunters often have favourite bushes whose harvest they prefer to any neighbouring bush. As you can try before you 'buy' shop around to find what suits you, avoiding bushes by busy roads or fruit low enough to be 'watered' by passing dogs.
When to pick
Blackberries are normally at their best at the end of August to September. Legend has it any picked after the end of this month are best avoided as the devil is said to have peed on them. Not sure this is true but by October the damp weather will have certainly soiled many crops.
Where to pick
Grown in abundance in all manner of hedgerows across the country blackberries are not restricted to rural areas but regularly spotted along canal paths and across wasteland in towns and cities alike.
Although it's hard to resist raiding each hedgerow try not to stack loads on top of each other or they'll bruise and squash before you get them home. Use a couple of containers if you want to pick lots of berries though it's always good to leave plenty for other pickers too.
When picking blackberries, or any small fruit, take a large plastic type milk jug with you, it is easier to hold on to the handle than hold a tub, the blackberries fit easily through the top. For children use a small milk jug as it will not weigh as much and it is easier for them to hold onto than a tub. When emptying, have patience as the berries will only come out one at a time, or, carefully cut the top of the jug and tip the berries out.
How to store
Try to keep them dry when storing and they should last for two to three days. If refrigerating let them come to room temperature before eating, as they'll taste much juicier that way. Don't worry if you've picked more than you can handle, blackberries are easily frozen and can be baked straight from the freezer with no need to defrost. Freeze on a tray in a single layer so they don't all squish together or puree them first then freeze the liquid in a bag or ice cube tray.
What to cook
Pies and crumbles are the obvious choice but blackberries also taste delicious served with savoury meats, or on their own with some double cream.
You can easily and significantly lower the carbohydrate content of your blackberry, or blueberry, crumble by removing all the sugar it contains. The sugar doesn't play any important role in this recipe, besides providing sweetness. Blackberries (Blueberries) are naturally sweet and do not need extra sugar. You can also make the topping without any added sugar, or you can use a sugar substitute to add a bit of sweetness without all the extra carbohydrates. Sucralose and stevia are good options for baking because they, unlike aspartame, tolerate high temperatures well. Eliminating the sugar alone will save you 38 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
Second Use Almond Meal:
For the topping of your blackberry, or blueberry, crumble you can replace in equal measure the regular all-purpose flour with almond meal. Almond meal can be purchased at many grocery stores in the health food section. Check the expiration date, however, because it can go rancid. To make sure it is fresh and to save money, make it yourself by grinding almonds in a food processor. Each cup of almond meal contains only 9 grams of net carbs, compared to the 95 grams found in regular wheat flour. (Replace the oats with coarsely chopped almonds for extra texture while keeping the carb content low.) These substitutions save you an extra 18 to 25 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
Low-Carb Blackberry or Blueberry Crumble
Without sugar and flour, your low-carb almond blackberry/blueberry crumble provides only 14 to 19 grams of carbohydrates per serving, a 78 percent decrease compared to the regular high-carb recipe. If you want to keep your carb intake even lower, split your serving with a friend and freeze leftovers for later to prevent temptation. Avoid serving your low-carb dessert with ice cream, since even sugar-free ice cream contains about 15 grams of carbohydrates per 1/2-cup serving. Instead, add creaminess by drizzling double / heavy cream, which does not contain any carbs, over your crumble.
Will you be blackberry picking soon?