Four easy recipes to make the most of the blackberry season

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For food-seeking nerds like me, there are treasures to be found all year round. We found a few wild mushrooms in the fields – our buckthorn berries are ripening and I picked a lot of rowan berries to make jelly to serve with pork, lamb or game in season.

There are tons of blackberries this year so you can satisfy your inner “hunter-gatherer” or just take a trip down memory lane.

We have tons of blackberries on the brambles in the hedges around the school, an added bonus of the farm’s rewilding areas to provide additional habitats for birds, wildlife, bees and other pollinating insects. This year they’re really fat and juicy, with a more intense tangy flavor than cultivated blackberries, and, of course, they’re free. Organize a bramble picking expedition with your children and grandchildren. You’ll have to show them how to pick the best and how to judge if they’re infested with tiny maggots – rather than a pale, creamy green center, the pit will be stained with blackberry juice.

We buy kilos of blackberries for jam from local children who love to earn pocket money and carry on the tradition that has endured in many families for generations.

Blackberries freeze brilliantly – they dry as well. If you have a dehydrator, it is definitely worth experimenting with blackberries: add them to scones, muffins, muesli. Try folding a few in Champ or Colcannon to serve with roast duck.

They are at their best now but will gradually deteriorate depending on the weather. The older people told us to the children not to pick blackberries after Halloween, some say that Saint-Michel (September 29) “because the“ púca ”will have spat on them”. It was a brilliant deterrent to keep starving children from eating overripe blackberries years ago.

Have fun with blackberries: they are deliciously versatile – consider adding them to both sweet and savory dishes as well as sprinkling them over breakfast granola, muesli, yogurt … Dip one into a ice cube with a mint leaf to add it to syrups and appetizers.

They’re packed with vitamin C and are believed to improve motor and cognitive function, which not all of us could do with it. They also make a delicious wine if you like home brewing, but blackberry creme is even easier – try this recipe I originally found in one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Jane grigson’s Good things. It’s a brilliant base for a cordial or a blackberry kir.

All the hedges around us here are still full of fluffy meadowsweet, so I hope you’ve picked some and experienced the fragrant blossoms – see my post from August 7, 2021.

Pavlova with blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and mint

Pavlova, the dessert named after the ballerina Anna Pavlova must be here – a base for so many delicious berries and ripe fruits

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites

  • 225g caster sugar

  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch

  • 1 tsp of white wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or the zest of 1 lemon

  • For the filling:

  • 300 ml of cream

  • 400 – 450g mixture of whole and sliced ​​blackberries, raspberries, blueberries mixed with fresh mint

  • To garnish:

  • Fresh mint leaves

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150 ° C / 300 ° F / thermostat 2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Check that your bowl and whisk are dry and free from grease or any detergent residue. Using a food processor, whip the egg whites until stiff, then add half the powdered sugar, continue to whisk until the mixture is firm and shiny. Stir in the remaining powdered sugar with the cornstarch, vinegar, vanilla extract or lemon zest.

  3. Spread the meringue mixture onto a 23 cm (9 inch) round or oval on the silicone paper. Make a well in the center and push the mixture to the side to form “walls”. Bake in the center of a preheated oven for 1 to 1 hour or until very light brown, crisp on the outside and dry on the underside but chewy and marshmallow in the center.

  4. Once out of the oven, turn the pavlova over on a wire rack and peel off the paper. If it’s still a little sticky in the center, return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes more. Let cool well.

  5. To serve, gently transfer the pavlova to a serving plate. Whip the cream gently, fill the center of the pavlova with cream and berries. Garnish with fresh mint.

    To note: This amount makes 6 individual 10 cm (4 inch) pavlovas that take 20 minutes to cook.

Blackberry, apple and geranium jam

Blackberries are a bit low in pectin, so tangy Bramley apples help the jam set while adding extra flavor. This makes 9-10 jars of 450g

Blackberry, apple and geranium jam

Ingredients

  • 2.3 kg (5 lbs) blackberries (wild or cultivated)

  • 900g (2lbs) cooking apples (Bramley Seedling in season)

  • 1kg – just 1.1kg (2lbs 4oz – 2lbs 6oz) of granulated sugar

  • 8 to 10 sweet geranium leaves (optional), alternatively use the finely grated zest and juice of an organic lemon

Method

  1. Wash, peel, seed and slice the apples. Cook them until tender with 300 ml (10 fl oz) of water in a stainless steel saucepan; beat into pulp.

  2. Pick from the blackberries, cook until tender, adding about 150 ml (5 fl oz) of water (or water and lemon juice) if the berries are dry. If the blackberries are frozen, omit the water.

  3. Place the blackberries in a large stainless steel saucepan or saucepan with the apple pulp and heated sugar. Peel and chop the sweet geranium leaves (or lemon zest if you use it) and add to the fruit. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

  4. Boil regularly for about 15 minutes or so. Skim the jam, test it and pour it into hot, spotlessly clean jars. Close, store in a dark place, or share with friends.

Lemon cream

Easy, this recipe makes two 200 ml jars of lemon cream

Lemon cream

Method

  1. Melt the butter over very low heat. Add the caster sugar, lemon zest and juice then add the beaten eggs.

  2. Stir gently over low heat with a wooden spatula at the right end until the mixture coats the back. Remove from heat and pour into a sterilized bowl or jar (it will thicken more as it cools.)

  3. Cover cold and refrigerate.

Lemon cream with blackberries and toasted almonds

Spicy, sweet and tasty, the almonds in this recipe add a perfect crunch

Lemon cream with blackberries and toasted almonds

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons of lemon cream

  • 3-4 tablespoons of whipped cream

  • 175g (6oz) wild blackberries

  • a dash of freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • a pinch of sugar or a drizzle of honey (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons toasted flaked almonds

  • grated mint leaves and a few whole mint leaves for garnish

Method

  1. Taste the blackberries, if they are very tart, add a dash of lemon juice and a generous pinch of sugar or honey. Leave to macerate for 4 to 5 minutes.

  2. Incorporate the whipped cream into the lemon cream. Taste and add a more of one or the other depending on the intensity of the lemon cream.

  3. Toast the flaked almonds in a dry pan until a rich golden color (watch them as they burn very easily) and let cool.

  4. To serve, place two generous tablespoons of lemon cream in each shallow bowl. Pour a little macerated blackberries on the cream. Sprinkle with slivered almonds and sprinkle with grated mint and a few fresh mint leaves for decoration.

HOT TIPS

Artisan bakeries

Artisanal bakeries are popping up all over the country. The worse the commercial bread gets (and much of it is really shocking now), the greater the opportunity. I think that before long most small towns and villages will be able to support a bakery that sells natural sourdough and slow-fermenting yeast and rye breads. On a recent visit to the brilliant Borris House Festival of Writing and Ideas, I discovered The Fermentary, across from the Main Street Playground. Locals patiently lined up for 48-hour natural sourdough and rye breads, wonderful almond or coconut and raspberry croissants, morning rolls, pain au chocolat – and a really good coffee also from the roasters La Cabra in Copenhagen or Calendar in Galway, Kombucha on tap from an elegant copper dispenser. Another place worth a visit. thefermentary.ie

Brasserie Eight Degrees – Best in Ireland World Beer Awards

Congratulations to Eight Degrees Brewing’s Seisiún IPA and Sunburnt Irish Red Ale, which were named ‘Best in Ireland’ at this year’s World Beer Awards. Seisiún IPA took victory in the session category while Sunburnt Irish Red Ale won in the amber category.

Clean Ballynamona Ribs

Well done Clean Coasts Ballynamona which has just launched a 2022 calendar with stunning images of Cork’s east coast. 100% of the profits from the sale of the calendar are donated to the protection of our coastline and the management of the meadows for the pollinators in their care.

Calendars can be purchased online at SeaAndLandTrust.org for € 13.75 including postage anywhere in Ireland. They are also available for purchase through the Ballymaloe Cooking School Farm Shop and other local shops / outlets in East Cork.


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