There’s only one consolation for me when summer is in its final throes and winter is looming: the intervening gloriousness of autumn.
From the crisp mornings to the red and gold hues of the countryside, I love everything this season has to offer. But for me the real highlight is what nature’s larder has to offer this season, particularly for those who enjoy a spot of foraging.
And when it comes to taking advantage of in-season produce, there really is a jewel in the crown of autumn: the blackberry.
Jewel really is the perfect description for these glossy, purple gems of the hedgerow. Having sat quietly ripening during the warmer months, blackberries are a parting gift from summer: bursting into sweet, plump and juicy goodness just as the nights begin the draw in.
What’s even better is just how accessible blackberries are – look in any hedgerow and you’re bound to find them, regardless of where you live. Brambles excel at growing in random places, so you don’t need to head to the hills to go foraging.
There’s an abundance you can do with a basket full of freshly picked blackberries, aside from the obvious crumble. I like to freeze mine for use over the winter, when a small handful dropped into a hot, steaming bowl of porridge makes a particularly comforting breakfast.
Partial as I am to a good homemade jam, I’ll be picking extra this month to make few jars of this:
- Put the berries, lime/lemon zest and juice into a large stainless steel pan and cook over a low heat, stirring now and then, until the berries are soft and plenty of juice has been released. Press gently with a potato masher to release even more juice and break up some of the fruit, but don’t reduce all the berries to pulp.
- Add the sugar, then stir for about 10 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat, then boil steadily for 7 minutes until setting point is reached 105°C.
- Remove the pan from the heat, skim any scum off the surface, then leave for 5 minutes for the fruit to settle down into the syrup. Stir well then pour the hot jam into warm sterilised jars. Cover immediately with waxed discs and lids. Label, then store in a cool, dark place.