As the nights draw in and get colder, we are reminded of the flavours of autumn. One of these is the humble blackberry. Growing wildly on hedgerows all over the country, blackberries are a wonderful and tasty fruit. There is no end to the imaginative ways in which we indulge our taste buds with this fruit. Here are some suggestions.
Blackberry Ice Lollies
800g (or about 28 ¼ ounces) blackberries
9 ½ tablespoons of sugar – preferably caster sugar
9 ½ tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of rose water (optional)
Ice lolly moulds
September is usually warm for the most part – warm enough to enjoy ice cream and ice-lollies. Here is how you make your own. Boil the sugar and water gently together in a pan until the sugar is dissolved and you have nice, consistent syrup. Leave to cool; it should take around 10 minutes.
Puree the blackberries in a food processor or with an electric hand whisk. Ideally, you want this as smooth and as consistent as possible. Once the sugar and water mixture has cooled, add the ingredients together and mix. Also add the lemon and optional rose water. Once mixed, strain the mixture through a sieve and into a large bowl. Discard the pulp (or perhaps use it in a crumble). Your mixture is now ready for the moulds.
900g (or about 31 ¾ ounces) blackberries
900g golden sugar or jam sugar
1 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice
50ml water (or about 1 ¾ fluid ounces)
A little butter
Jam is one of the easiest things to make with blackberries. Note: At no point should you stir the mixture. Add the water and the lemon juice to the blackberries in a large pan and bring to the boil. Once boiling, you need to bring the heat down to a gentle simmer for the next 15 minutes or so until the fruit is soft. Then, turn it down again to a very low heat and add the sugar. Once dissolved, turn up to a very high heat and let it boil for 12 minutes. Take off the heat and remove the scum from the top. Add the butter (just a knob, a teaspoon’s worth should do it) and leave for around 15 minutes to allow the mixture to settle. Wait for it to cool a little before transfering to jars.
Apple & Blackberry Crumble
For the crumble topping:
120g (4 ¼ oz) plain flour
60g (2 1/8 oz) real butter (unsalted preferably)
60g (2 1/8 oz) sugar (typically caster sugar)
For the filling:
300g (10 ½ oz) apples (bramley preferably, but braeburn will do)
30g (1 oz) brown sugar (soft brown or demerara)
30g (1 oz) butter (as above, preferably unsalted)
120g (4 ¼ oz) blackberries
¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
A crumble is one of the easiest and heartiest autumn desserts to make. Set the oven to 190C or 170C for fan. First, for the topping, sift the flour and sugar into a large bowl. Once mixed, add the butter and press it into the dry mixture. You know it will be ready when it has the texture of damp breadcrumbs. Sprinkle on a baking sheet (a non-stick tray might be fine) and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
Secondly, for the filling, peel and core the apples and discard these. Chop the apple flesh into cubes of around 2cm each side. Melt the butter and sugar together and cook on a medium heat until it looks like liquid caramel. Stir in the apple cubes and cook for about 3 minutes. Then stir in the blackberries and cinnamon and cook for another 3 minutes. At the end of the 3 minutes, cover it and remove from the heat. Leave it for another 3 minutes.
Finally, spoon the mixture into a deep dish. An oblong pyrex dish should suffice. Spread the part-baked crumble mixture on the top and put back in the oven for a maximum of 15 minutes.