Simple Blackberry Compote and Tips on Berry Foraging

The BHK bumper blackberry crop

The BHK bumper blackberry crop

We decided to let our brambles run wild this year, the back of the garden has sprung into a thorny, berry heaven.  Brambles are so prolific and need no encouraging to take over the joint!  We’ve had a bumper crop with kilos of blackberries flying into the kitchen and looking for a home.  I like what the brambles have done to the nether regions of our garden, creating a home for all sorts of cool creepy crawlies and a decent amount of little mice, which are big friends to our developing garden.

On our green and good isle, Britain, we are enjoying a good start to September, the extra rays of sunlight are resulting in some massive, succulent blackberries, so we’ve been making chutneys, wine (this recipe will no doubt appear here soon) and compotes/ jams. We are nicely stocked for the upcoming Christmas/ birthday present-athon. What better gift than a spicy chutney?

Blackberries are such a bountiful autumnal bonus and along with elderberries, are two of my favourite fruity treats. This is such an abundant time of year, it seems like all the warm weather we’ve had this year has come to fruition. Its hanging from almost every bush! It makes all that messing around with soil and late night slug raids on the veg patch worth while. We can eat from the land and there are few things more satisfying than a fruit salad made from you’re own (British!) garden.

Berry foraging bonus - fresh lavender smells around the house

Berry foraging bonus – fresh lavender smells around the house

Blackberries are native to Northern Europe and they grow as far north as Siberia!  Our berries, like most, just run wild all over the place.  You can be more organised and precise and run them up trellises etc.  But thats proper gardeners territory and we’re not there yet.

When making this compote, it will rarely get easier when playing with pots and pans. Two ingredients and a little heat, a jar and a cool place.  All you need for a knockout compote.  We took this in what is known as a ‘sugar free’ direction as a friend was visiting who is avoiding the heinous white powder.  A sprinkle of dates sorts out all of our sweet tooth requirements and also brings a thicker texture to the party.  Taste the compote after 5 minutes bubbling on the hob and add more dates if not quite sweet enough.  We are not sure how long it will last in the fridge, this compote is not made as a ‘preserve’ but should be eaten soon after cooking.  We’ve had a huge pot in the fridge now for over three weeks and its fine.  I did think that the reduced sugar content would shorten its life, but its still soldiering on.

Good blackberries are essential for this type of embellishment free behaviour, raid you local hedgerow to find the finest blackberries.  You will probably have a nice time too, just avoid those vicious thorns and if picking on a road, avoid speeding buses!

TOP TIPS FOR BERRY FORAGING

–  Never pick anything edible around train tracks, they regularly spray chemicals around the tracks to stop weeds growing.  Never pick berries that are cocked dog leg height, for obvious reasons.

–  Be careful not to squash berries when picking them, if you do, we suggest popping them into your mouth.  Try to keep your hands clean when picking fruit, the occasional scoff is very hard to resist (and all part of the fun).

–  Only pick berries that are plump and soft, the ones that fall off in your hand.  If you have to tug it, it ain’t ready for munching.  Leave if for a few days and then go back for it (blackberries grow and ripen quickly).

–  Use the berries straight away, that day.  If they look dirty, or you don’t fancy wild berry munching, submerge berries in cold water when you get home, give them a swish around and then leave them to drain, laying them out on kitchen paper when ready.  Handle them very gently, until they are dry-ish.  Then pop in the fridge covered loosely.  This works for us.  But as mentioned, the sooner they disappear into happy bellies, the better.

–  When picking blackberries, look at the white bit (where the stem should be), this is where maggots reside.  If there are maggots hanging out, ditch the berry on the ground and continue undeterred.

–  Don’t wear your new white shirt or trousers.

The Bits – Makes 2 regular jam jars 

800g freshly picked blackberries

2 big handfuls of chopped dates (to taste)

Do It

In a large, heavy bottomed pan, add the blackerries and dates, bring slowly to a boil and leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the berries have broken down.  Stir regularly, do not allow the base or edges of the compote to catch and burn.

Very easy Blackberry Compote

Very easy Blackberry Compote with some Rye Bread

Serve

The resulting deep purple gorgeous-ness can be spread on warm toast with soya yoghurt or with chopped bananas and nut butter.  Very pleasant when spooned over your morning bowl of muesli or even frozen and made into a sorbet (we haven’t tried this yet).  You could also make a wonderful dressing with it, by adding balsamic vinegar and a touch of oil and seasoning.

Foodie Fact

Blackberries contain a low-calorie sugar substitute called Xylitol, which is low GI, meaning slow absorption into the blood stream.  Blackberries are high in fibre and are full, full, full of antioxidants like vitamin C and chemicals called phenolic flavanoids (good guys).

See below for the physical after effects of a days blackberry picking.

Jane on Aberdaron beach yesterday, full of blackberries!

Jane on Aberdaron beach yesterday, full of blackberries!

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Categories: Foraging, Recipes, Wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Simple Blackberry Compote and Tips on Berry Foraging

  1. Beautiful photos – the one of Jane is just wonderful! I have’t foraged for blackberries since I was a child growing up in rural New Zealand…where blackberries are a bit of a pest. They grow too quickly in the NZ climate, so people don’t usually grow them in their gardens, but you can find them growing wild along the road sides in the country. You’ve just made me feel so nostalgic!

    • They are a pest!!! But the berries are lovely and we are taking the smooth with the rough with our bramble patch. Thanks for dropping by!

  2. We have blackberries all over our property and they tend to make me a whole lot grumpier than Jane looks! Maybe I should just eat them rather than trying to eradicate them 😉

    • Eat them!!!!! It always seems like good advice! Blackberries are a pain when they take over your garden, next year we may not be so generous to them. They do seem to make a great environment for all sort of wildlife and give our garden a proper wild look! Peeeeaaaa ccccceeeeeeee

      • Our clucky chooks make a bee line for the blackberries and tunnel themselves in deep as they know that we aren’t going in there after them! ;). Much like forget-me-nots that I used to think were SO pretty and now are the scourge of our lives. Funny how one mans pretty is another mans weed eh? 😉

      • Pretty weeds……this is so true, I am sometimes slightly irked by the whole concept of weeds, but if I was growing my own veg and relied on successful harvests, I imagine my opinion would change. Surely all weeds have at least one beneficial use for humanity? Then the big questions is, do we actually have the time or inclination to process/ cook/ dry them to reap the bounty that nature so kindly proffers in our general direction. Im off to make a cake, beetroot based of course. Love to all Tazzers, L+Jx

      • YUMMO! Hopefully recipe coming 🙂

      • You know, I can’t keep up with these posts at all. I have one recipe to write and then all of a sudden, another one crops up and then another and before I know it, I have done none!!!!! I am lucky to have some time off at the minute to play in the kitchen, tonight its pan pizza (in a pan) and some pretty cool almond and banana ice cream. I just wish I was better with these flashy boxes and could invite you guys round for dinner, we could have a Skype dinner party!!!! Peace and parsnips, lee

      • Pan pizza is delish. I tend not to do pizza any more, mostly rolled pizza (stromboli) and folded pizza (calzones) and when I make them I make enough for 4 meals ;). Pan pizza is special because it just tastes amazing. I love how the crust crisps up perfectly and you don’t end up with crust that is just that bit TOO crispy because you were drinking wine and forgot to check ;). The almond and banana ice cream sounds delish and you guys eat amazingly well up there on your Welsh mountain 🙂

  3. Pingback: Quick Blackberry and Rowan Jelly Tart | the beach house kitchen

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