There are some beautiful blackberries around this year - sometimes we don't have very many because the farmers around here cut and lay the hedges. This is all very beautifully done, and it is a good stock fence, but it is no good for foraging. However you come by them - and buying them is fine - there are some great things to make with the humble blackberry.
Due to a certain lack of natural pectin, the blackberry is nearly always paired with cooking apples which help a jam or jelly to set. I already have blackberry & apple jam on the shelves and I have also made the chutney version of this happy marriage. I like it, but for some people it is just too fruity for a chutney. Naturally I don't agree but each to their own. If you would like to make some you will need:-
900g/2lbs blackberries, picked over and washed
900g/2lbs cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
450g/1lb onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped/crushed
600ml/1 pint red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
450g/1lb light soft brown sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
Put all of the ingredients - except for the sugar and half of the vinegar - into a preserving pan.
Stir to combine and then set over a medium heat and bring to the boil.
Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook on until all of the fruit and the onion are lovely and soft. Add the remaining vinegar if it gets too dry.
Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve.
Continue to cook at a simmer until the chutney has thickened.
As soon as you have your desired consistency pot up into warm, dry jars and seal immediately.
Will make around 8-9 340g/12oz jars
Store out of strong sunlight and keep for 2-3 weeks before using. This gives the chutney time to mellow and develop it's flavour.
Blackberry Vinegar next - put 450g/1lb blackberries into a large bowl and pour over approximately 600ml/1 pint red wine vinegar. Cover with cling film and set aside in a cool, dark place to macerate. Check each day, for at least three days, giving the mixture a stir and squash the fruit down.
When you are ready to bottle, strain the vinegar through muslin, a jelly bag or a coffee filter into a measuring jug. To each 600ml/1 pint liquid allow 225g/8oz white sugar. Pour into a pan, add the sugar and stir over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Bring up to the boil and cook for around 10 mins. It is then ready to bottle into clean, warmed bottles - I use the 150ml vinegar bottle with the integral sprinkler. Another great new swing top bottle is the 125ml Bambino - they look really special for gifts. Seal immediately. Use to enrich gravies for game, add to hot water for a soothing, antiseptic drink, or use in salad dressings in place of balsamic vinegar.
If you are in the mood to make some lovely Bramble Brandy ready for Christmas then this is easy and quick to make with just 1 kg blackberries.
Fill small bottles to make exclusive Christmas gifts ( don't have the bottles too big! ) The Arrenzos are a good size and look very smart with their black corks.
The recipe is here with the quantities etc.
Clockwise: pureed blackberry & apple; all the ingredients added - beaten egg on top; the finished curd; the curd being cooked;
Finally, Blackberry & Apple Fresh Curd. Absolutely stunning flavour, warm and inviting as opposed to the astringency of Lemon Curd. The full method with photographs is in a previous blog so get out and get some blackberries this weekend and make this treat for tea - or breakfast! Lovely on scones or toast, or use to sandwich a sponge cake together. Yum yum yum.
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