Blackberry Season !
Although not quite ready as I write this, the wet winter and glorious warm spring means it looks like we are going to have a humungous blackberry season. Yipee!
Last year the men in our family all made their own blackberry wine in early September, which was ready in time for Christmas. Ensuing a great ‘wine tasting’ competition, complete with prizes.
This year the same event will take place, but not before I make sure there are enough of those lovely little berries for me to cook with (they used them all up for the wine last year!)
Eton Mess is made with crumbled meringues, whipped cream and strawberries. Very nice - but why not make a Merrow Mess? Even better - substituting strawberries for blackberries. Delish. Can’t wait…
Then there will be a blackberry coulis to pour over yogurt or ice cream or drizzled over Tom’s signature warm chocolate brownies and served with thick cream or creme fraiche. Simply put 250g of the berries into a saucepan with 50g granulated sugar (or more or less to your own taste) and 100 ml of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes. Use a blender and a sieve if you want it really smooth – or just leave as it is with bits of blackberries. Cool and store in the fridge. You could even put a splash into a G&T! Or mix with some sparkling water for a fizzy blackberry drink. It only lasts a few days in the fridge, but you could make lots as it freezes well.
Did you know that blackberries also go well with pork? So, when you are tray baking vegetables with chops or sausages - add a sliced apple and a handful of the berries.
There is a lot of science behind jam making and getting just the right consistency and setting, but it does not have to be rocket science – if it is a tad runny or too thick then that is just what is. After all it is homemade. Your homemade blackberry jam. The basic premis is the same – use equal parts blackberries to white granulated sugar. (You could also use preserving sugar if you want a thicker jam).
For example, place 700g berries into a large saucepan with 700g sugar and the juice of 2 lemons. Bring gently to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about an hour – stir every now and again. The longer you simmer the thicker it will become, so up to you, but basically it is ready when a little is placed on a cold plate and ‘crinkles up’. If not return to the gentle heat for a while. Remove any ‘froth’ from the top. Carefully pour the hot jam into warm thoroughly clean jars. Put the lids on. This amount should fill about 4 x1lb jars. Then pile onto toast, crumpets or scones or how about a thick slice of bloomer loaf with real butter, as luckily although it keeps very well, it is ready as soon as it cools.