Not known for my love of raiding a JD Sports for a pair of crap trainers, I prefer to do non-aggressive form of looting: foraging for free fruit. It’s not stealing as such, it’s just picking fruit off the bushes, but not having to pay for it. I probably sound like a smug middle class bore. Oh well – at least I haven’t set fire to someone’s house or mugged someone for no good reason. (Come on London, grow up!)
So having just come into possession of a terrifyingly overgrown garden, which has triffid-like brambles, I have had my paws on the blackberries for the last few weeks. They are ripe right now, and even though it feels a little early in the year to be picking them, the strange hot/wet weather we’ve had means that they have ripened early. Brambles grow literally everywhere, from urban spaces to country lanes, so get out there and loot some free fruit while it lasts – it feels really satisfying to see the berries glistening beadily in the sunshine, then popping them into a tub, knowing that less tasty versions are being flogged in supermarkets for silly money.
All I have done with the berries recently is make them into a sort of compote, laced with a little booze and sugar. Delicious served with thick Greek yoghurt (I use Total full fat), or draped onto scoops of vanilla ice cream.
You will need:
600g (ish) blackberries
About 2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
Creme de Cassis (blackcurrant) liqueur (I use the French Gabriel Boudoir of Dijon one)
Take your blackberries and rinse well, removing all bits of twig, grit and cobweb. Let them drain for a little while in a colander. Tip into a heavy based saucepan and sprinkle over the golden caster sugar and 2 capfuls of cassis (or more, depending on how boozy you like your berries, but don’t add too much more because it will overpower the flavour of the blackberry).
Simmer over a low heat for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you have a bit of bubbling up and a dark purple syrup. They are ready to go! Let them cool down.
You could use the compote mixed with apple for an awesome crumble or pie, or even strain it to make ice cream (which I intend to do soon, watch this space).
You could also make a refreshing drink with a spoonful of compote at the bottom of the glass, topped with fizzy water:
I have also foraged these elderberries – anyone got any idea what I can do with them? I hear that if you eat too many of them, they have a laxative effect!