When I was little, I used to go blackberry picking with my mum – and I, in turn, took my own children with my friends, Claire and Beryl, and their children. Our babies have got babies of their own now and we hope to all go picking again this week – trying to persuade little fingers to put as many of the berries they put in their mouths into their baskets! Our garden is partly an old orchard where the apple trees have fallen down (we have also planted new ones!) and become a secret hiding place for rabbits, squirrels and mice and the trunks homes for woodpeckers and robins. And over it all, have grown the most wonderful blackberry bushes, their huge, thorny branches weighed down with all their glistening, purple gorgeousness!
There are so many things you can do with blackberries – apart from sweet things, you can make cordials (well, we would, wouldn’t we to go with our rhubarb and gooseberry ones) , savoury sauces – and, of course, you can just freeze them as I do (just bag them up!) and eat every morning with porridge (me) and yogurt (the husband) for a dose of vitamin C throughout the winter. They are free, picking gets you out in the fresh air and it’s a time to spend with friends, chatting away as you do, as we have done for years behind years!
Overnight Oats and Blackberries
- 1 cup fresh ripe blackberries (plus a few for topping)
- 1/2 banana (save the remainder for the topping)
- 200 mls milk
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup oats (I like the organic jumbo ones best)
- Topping: slices of banana and extra blackberries
Put the blackberries, banana, milk and vanilla in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Pour into a bowl or glass jar and stir in the oats. Cover the bowl or jar and place in the refrigerator overnight to allow the oats to soak and soften. In the morning add some fresh blackberries and the other half of the banana (sliced) on top (for those with a sweet tooth, add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
- baby spinach/ watercress/ rocket leaves (or a mixture if you have it!)
- fresh blackberries
- crumbled gorgonzola or blue cheese
- citrus vinaigrette (recipe below)
- 1/3 cup good-quality olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed orange, lemon, or lime juice
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients. Toss the leaves and blackberries together with the vinaigrette and serve topped with crumbled cheese. I will look so beautiful with the light green leaves and purple blackberries, you will be loathe to eat it – but do!
Blackberry Butter – makes one pound of butter
- 1 pound butter, softened
- 1/8 cup of honey
- 1/2 cup blackberries