Its that time of year, when blackberries are everywhere and we need inspiration outside crumbles and cakes. Jane and I try to pick as many as possible, although sometimes its a thankless task. They are not the easiest fruits to harvest (especially wearing shorts!) Braving all those thorns is well worth it though. Blackberries are one of my favourite berries and so versatile. Vinegar may not be the most obvious way to use them but turning fruit into vinegar is wonderfully simple and the best thing about it is, they last for an age. Perfect for preserving our seasonal berry gluts. Fruit vinegar is also quite an expense in the shops so you’re saving a few pennies.
REASONS TO GO BLACKBERRY PICKING
- Once you’re out there, it’s actually loads of fun!
- Eating blackberries makes our brains work better and also make our skin look younger.
- They are FREE!
- You can use the leaves of the blackberry plant. We dry them out and use them to make tea. The most tender leaves work best.
Its a good idea to have some bags or punnets in your car, when you see a blackberry hot spot, you can leap out and share in the wealth. You can also arrange a family/ group of friends collective forage. This means you can prepare vinegar or blackberry jams or compotes together in big pans. This works out more cost effective and there is something very rewarding about a jar of homemade, foraged jam in the heart of winter. Full of good memories and nutritional vitality.
Blackberry vinegar can be used in salad dressing or drank with some hot water (think a hot cordial) for a vitamin boost on a cold autumn day. You may also like to try roasting beetroots with the vinegar, similar to when we use balsamic vinegar in roasting roots. The results are delicious and are all the more satisfying because you made it! For free! From the hedgerow!!
So get out there with your punnets (or buckets). Free berries for all! That’s (almost) free food!
The Bits – Makes roughly 300ml Vinegar
125ml white wine vinegar
150g unrefined light brown sugar
Soak blackberries in vinegar for 5 day to 1 week. The longer you leave them, the more concentrated the flavour. We left ours for 10 days.
Strain using muslin. You can either leave hanging above a vessel for 12 hours or pass through the muslin. The blackberry pulp left over should be relatively dry.
Add the vinegar and sugar to a saucepan and bring gently to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes stirring regularly. The sugar should be completely combined with the vinegar.
Leave the vinegar to cool and the store in a clean bottle with a decent cork/lid.
Blackberries are high in vitamin C and the very dark colour of blackberries means lots of anti-oxidants. One of the highest in fruit. The high tannin content of blackberries helps with intestinal inflammation, it has a soothing effect. The high vitamin K content in blackberries is said to regulate menstruation and aids in muscle relaxation.