National Blackberry Day - 12th September

Blackberry Day 12th SeptemberNational Blackberry Day

Blackberry Day has now been accepted as the 12th September.  This for the logical reason that this is statistically the date when blackberries reach their peak in the English Midlands.

Blackberry Day - 12th September

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Blackberry Season 2012

Not a vintage year.  Insufficient sunshine, too much rain.

Blackberry Season 2011

This year's crop seems late.  We just haven't had the sunshine this summer to produce a bumper crop.  Furthermore every time I think about going out blackberrying, it rains!

One piece of good news; a neighbour and her two young daughters went out picking and kindly gave us enough blackberries for my wife to make a tasty blackberry tart.

Blackberry Day 2010 (UK)

I don't know if it was just me, but I missed out on the 2010 blackberry season.  It always seemed to rain just as I was about to pick.  Blackberries will recover from a shower, and the later fruiting berries in the bunch will ripen when the sun returns.  However, I always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Blackberry Day 2009 (UK)

In the Midlands of England, where I live, it was a pretty average blackberry season in terms of rainfall and sunshine.  However, there was a hiccup in early September when we caught the tail of Hurricane Danny, but after a week or two of better weather the blackberries miraculously appeared in time for Blackberry Day 12th September.

  • In 2009 the 14th of September was good, although picking 3 days either side was also excellent.
  • In 2008 the 12th of September was the best day.
  • In 2007 the best days were earlier around the 28th of August.
  • In 2007 blackberries peaked on 10th of September.

Blackberry Day 2008 (UK)

Unlike other seasonal event such as Halloween, or Groundhog Day, Blackberry Day varies from year to year.  It is simply the day when blackberries are at their best for that particular year.  In the summer of 2008 there was less sunshine and more rain than average, thus 'Blackberry Day' was less productive than usual.

To tell the truth, by the end of August 2008 I thought that blackberry season may be literally a wash-out, however mother nature has seen fit to nourish the blackberries and by mid-September they will be big, black and succulent.  The persistent rain means that some bushes have watery fruit, but if the fruits have a glossy finish then there is hope that they will taste sweet and intensely blackberry.

Picking Blackberries

Choose a container to match your expectations.  A two litre ice cream box is a good starting point.  If you are going to drive around looking for blackberries, then you need a container with a lid, otherwise Murphy's law will kick in, and as you round the last corner all the blackberries will spill into the car's foot-well.

One of the surprises of picking blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) is how much the taste varies from one bush to the next.  In general, avoid even black blackberries if they look shrivelled.  Seek out heads where the individual seeds look full to bursting.  Any fruit that says to you 'I am a seed' is going taste tough fibrous and generally - seedy.

Don't be tempted to pick blackberries with any green bits, you will only discard such fruit later, so don't pick them in the first place.  Favour a clean pick, with no stalks or other inedible bits.  While the end product is worthwhile, and being in the countryside has its attractions, nevertheless, picking can be boring so set yourself targets. For example, I say to myself,  'I am going to pick 100 berries before I taste one'.  Better still, 'I am going to pick 500 berries, that will be enough for a blackberry tart. 1, 2, 3,.....'

...(vr3)

Granny's Tip: Involve Children

Granny says: 'All children love the adventure of blackberry picking'.  O.K. they eat some, but they have sharp eyes, and can spot those blackberries which are low down and easily missed by adults'.  These days more than ever it's good to make sure that children make the connection between nature in the raw and food on the table.  Adventurous children may even stray into the fields and find other delights such as mushrooms, whose season overlaps with the blackberry.

Avoid Commercial or Cultivated Blackberries

Cultivated blackberries are bigger and shiner, but when it comes to flavour they are 'weak tea'.  Take the trouble to pick your own, the wild hedge-row blackberry are the real deal; cultivate blackberries always flatter only to disappoint.  So if you see bush with huge blackberries and no thorns, this is fools gold, they will taste only of water.

Cooking Blackberries

It's hard to beat a handful of wild, raw, uncooked blackberries, maybe it's the fresh taste, maybe its the moment, but picking blackberries off the bush takes some beating.  Two 'dishes' that come close are blackberry & apple pie, or blackberry fool.  By 'fool' I mean blackberry mixed with yogurt.  Although the women in my life say that cream is even better than natural yogurt.

Blackberries also freeze better than other soft fruits, so if you have a glut and there is room in the freezer, then build up a supply for later in the year.

O, blackberry tart, with berries as big as your thumb, purple and black, and thick with juice, and a crust to endear them that will go to cream in your mouth, and both passing down with such a taste that will make you close your eyes and wish you might live forever in the wideness of that rich moment.

From 'How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn'

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Recipe for Blackberry Pie:Blackberry Pie

Ingredients For the short-crust pastry:

  • 6 oz (175 g) plain flour pinch salt
  • 1½ oz (40 g) lard
  • 1½ oz (40 g) butter

For the filling:

  • Naturally, you will need a pie dish.  A capacity of about 1½ pint (850 ml) should be suitable.
  • 3 medium cooking apples, about 3/4 lb (350 g)
  • 10 oz (250 g) of cleaned blackberries
  • 2 oz (50 g) sugar
  • Glaze the pie with milk and icing (or caster) sugar

Cooking

...(videVfl2)

Heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C).  Note after about 10 minutes turn the temperature down a notch, mark 6 or 200°C  If, like me, you like the fruit al-dente, cook for a total of 35 minutes.  Alternatively if you prefer your fruit soft cook for a total of 40 minutes and test with skewer.

Nutrition

We eat blackberries because we love the flavour, however, they are packed with useful nutrients such as vitamin C.  Another bonus is blackberries contain antioxidants, and a pleasant surprise they also contain a natural aspirin.  For those who are looking for ellagic acid, this is a good alternative source to raspberries.

Michaelmas Customs

Blackberries

The Michaelmas custom dictates that you should not eat blackberries after the 29th of September.  There is a very good reason for this custom, namely that by this time of year blackberries are tasteless and watery.Harvest Moon or Hunters Moon

Harvest Moon or Hunters Moon

The full moon nearest to the autumnal equinox has magical properties, and is known as the harvest or hunter's moon. 

The essential point, about the full moon is that it rises shortly after sunset.  At the autumn equinox this interval maybe as little as 30 minutes.  The point is that a harvest full moon artificially extends the evening light, which is useful to both hunters and natural wildlife predators.

Poachers Moon

After the harvest moon come the so called poachers, typically, this is the full moon at the end of October or early November.

Synchronize Your Blackberries!

Army Jokes

Blackberry Jokes

What do you get when a you eat a 'BlackBerry'?
A Bluetooth?

What do you get when you eat a blackberry - A bluetooth

Genuine Blackberry Jokes

Why were all the little blackberries crying? 
Because their parents were in a jam.

Overheard from Dina our four-year old niece, 'Mummy, why do my toes get sticky when I eat blackberry jam?'
Mummy, 'Hmm... perhaps you need a smaller spoon'.

 

Footnote:
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