For me, and probably many of you picking Blackberries from the hedgerow was a stable task performed every summer, whether it was with Mum, Granny or just as kids walking home from school, no swollen black hedgerow fruit was safe from my grasp! But alas I think somewhat its gone out of fashion to forage from the hedgerows….we’re all scared of pollution/dirt/maggots/stinging nettles or whatever and this puts many people off, indeed there are cultivated thornless varieties which you can choose to grow in your own back garden – we’re get to these shortly.
Again it’s a shame more of us aren’t out picking wild blackberries, we sometimes get blinded by more unusual forage goodies such as wild mushrooms that we forget the most basic of fruity delights that the wild blackberry is. For us as a family we like to get all our berries gathered before mid September, thus avoiding the maggots which affect later fruits and by getting out earlier we have the bigger first fruit picked off first, thus allows the rest of the fruit in the cluster to swell nicely too. And I think its years since I made jam with my Blackberries, I just freeze them all in boxes (after I’ve given them a rinse) for use in my morning porridge and with ice cream all winter long.
I think one of the reason we’ve lost contact with Blackberries is our current love affair with Blueberries, whether they’re from Peru, USA or France you may have these in your fridge all year round – supplemented with some from your own garden at this time of year. However Blackberries contain less Sugar than Blueberries, contain more fibre than Blueberries, lower GI rating than Blueberries and more Vitamin A and C than Blueberries….and if you pick them wild these wild blackberries contain more antioxidant properties than cultivated types!
However for many the idea of walking down a lane and foraging wild types is still unpalatable, so as mentioned before there are cultivated forms that you can grow in your garden, with the added bonus these are thornless and the fruits are bigger than their wild cousins- making for easier picking. Look out for varieties such as Loch Ness. Easy to grow against a fence or wall they just ned to be ‘tied in’ as they won’t twine like a Honeysuckle. Maintenance wise cut out old fruiting stems and then tie in the new growths (like a raspberry Blackberries produce fruit on older stems) and give them some seaweed meal or some poultry pellets in the spring to boost up the growth.
Anyways this weekend put some empty plastic boxes into a backpack and go for a wee dander and grab yourself a few boxes for the freezer providing you with a far more sustainable addition to your morning porridge bowl.
P.S. Don’t pick every fruit you see, remember they’re fierce enjoyed by the wee birds and other mammals…so mind and leave some behind!