Ahhh, blackberries (rubus fruticosus), our native super fruit, so full of flavour, fibre, vitamin C and K. Pretty much everyone knows blackberries, actually it is blackberries that makes many people a forager, yes, if you’ve picked and eaten wild blackberries you are a forager! I…
Depending where you are in the country, the first frost might have been and gone weeks ago. If the temperature has already plummeted, you may have seen fruits of sloes, rosehips, rowan berries, haws and maybe even blackberries covered in a crisp and magically frosted outer.
Cornish Frost – Myth or Reality?
Here in West Cornwall I never know whether this moment is going to arrive, at all. This year that moment came last week, and it is a welcomed one for a forager. I celebrated by going out and picking a select few of the remaining Japanese rosehips (Rosa Rugosa) which I’ll probably use to flavour chocolates for the February valentines foraging course. A time when we’ll probably need something to lift our spirits, immune systems and hearts. Gifts and wild food always help, I think.
(Hawthorn fruit – Crataegus monogyna – awaiting the first frost)
So, here in my beloved Cornwall, where the warm currents and breezes from the sea can help keep the temperature here more ambient. Exposed to the prevailing Southwesterly winds that blow in from the Atlantic means that Cornwall is considered the mildest and warmest place in the UK. Here we can sometimes sit on the beach on Christmas Day, and sometimes the frost, never, ever arrives. It is true that the closer to the ocean you get, the milder the winters and the cooler the summers are. Those of you who know Cornwall know that the down side is here we can get more rain. Nothing is perfect.
All this weather effects the foraging too, and in this blog I’m going to discuss how that effects wild fruits. In previous blogs I’ve talked about how the frost and snow effects seaweeds; that’s another read, if you’re interested.
(Frozen sloes – Prunus spinosa)
What does the frost do to wild fruits and is there an alternative?
The frost has the effect of both breaking the skins of the fruits and sweetening them. A welcomed impact for desserts, flavoured gin, jams, jellies and much more. Of course, living in the modern age means you don’t have to wait for the first frost – which is lucky for us in Cornwall as it may come late or not at all.
Why? Because we have freezers. It is true, popping the fruits in the freezer is not as romantic as getting up at dawn to collect glistening fruits breaking their frost virginity. Though hey, there are benefits to our modern world and there are many other wonderful things to do with our time and mornings too.
Enjoy the weather, fruits and the convenience of freezers. Freezers also mean that you can attend to your fruits – whatever you want to create with them – when you have ample time to enjoy the process, and not in a rushed moment between dawn and sun down.
All images by Rachel Lambert, except frozen blackberries which is courtesy of Snapguide. If you’d like to see more foraging images, why not visit or follow my Pinterest page.
Full of irresistible flavour, in a British pudding kind-of-way, with no awards for appearances. A cobbler is a baked dish made with fruit and batter, it’s stodgy, filling and easy to make. Just as satisfying as bread pudding, using blackberries as a flavouring makes it a classic for September. Oh, September has ended? Well, your frozen blackberries could also end up in this dish, just defrost them first.
The history of the cobbler
This type of pudding was actually promoted by the Ministry of Food in the 2nd world war. It was a way of ensuring that the British people were satiated, able to enjoy puddings that used little butter (which was rationed) and eating wild fruits (which were aplenty). Since the war, many wild foods grew out of fashion, as affluence slowly returned to the country and foraged ingredients were associated with poverty. Money was gained and wild foods were lost.
Several decades later the interest and value of wild food has been revived, mostly not for austerity reasons but for acknowledging the nutrition, flavour and benefits in eating local food that grows wild on our doorsteps.
Blackberry Cobbler Recipe
A traditional autumn recipe that I’ve tweaked to include wholemeal flour and brown sugar. How fashions change from encouraging people to eat stodge, to eating unrefined foods. Basically, natural foods are good for us and this is low in food miles too.
55 g melted butter, plus more for greasing pan
90 g brown sugar plus 2 tbsp
90 g white flour
35 g wholemeal flour
250 ml whole milk
240 g blackberries
Whipped cream, pouring cream or ice cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 23cm x 33cm baking dish with butter. In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar with the flour and milk. Whisk in the melted butter. Pour the batter into the baking dish and sprinkle the blackberries evenly over the top of the batter. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and bubbly. 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top. Serve hot with cream or ice cream or just have it on its own.
You might think you know everything about blackberries, though I share a blackberry muffin recipe in my wild food foraging book, and here’s my best blackberry jam recipe, an awesome blackberry coulis recipe and I share much about foraging on my courses and on my instagram feed. Happy blackberrying.
Everyone has there own traditions for Christmas Day. For me, I’m satisfied if I’m in good company, have a dip in the sea & there’s a healthy amount of indulgence. Down here in Cornwall I’ve plenty of people to share these common themes with; least…