It’s that time of year again. As the weather closes in an autumn is upon us, the country laneways here in Tasmania are dotted with people young and old picking blackberries from the hedgerows. Despite the inconvenience of thorns and prickles, the berries are well worth the picking as they make delightful jam and jelly. Sometimes I make cordial syrup from them, which not only delicious but also nutritious. The big advantage is that it has no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and is full of vitamins. I simply use the recipe for blackcurrant syrup, the recipe for which is on my blog of a couple of weeks ago. I have a friend who made sparking blackberry by substituting blackberries for the rhubarb in the sparkling rhubarb recipe, again from a previous blog if you want to check it out.
I’ve tried making a chutney from them, but I wasn’t too keen on the end result. I think it’s a shame to overpower the flavour of the fruit with vinegar, onions and spices.
Just this last week our friend Richard picked us a bucketful, from which I made jam and jelly. Richard loves picking them so had promised to bring me more, which is just fantastic.
Speaking of blackberries, just a few weeks ago we were able to access a bounty of last year’s crop. A friend told us of a man who had several kilos frozen that he might sell to us. We are always on the lookout for top quality, organic produce not only for our own use, but also for Alistair’s cake shop (Sweet Envy), where he turns them into absolutely delectable sweet treats, such as blackberry jelly slice, blackberry macaroons, blackberry ice cream and blackberry sorbet.
We went to visit the man who said “Ten kilos? I’ve got 100 kilos!” He had picked them for some-one who at the last moment changed their mind and decided they didn’t want them after all. This was too good an opportunity to miss, so we took ten kilos and promised to come back soon for the rest. When we returned about 2 weeks later, the packets of blackberries just kept coming from the freezer, literally filling the back of our ute to the brim. What a haul, we were absolutley delighted.
Of course it did present a bit of a challenge – where were we to store them? A friend turned on his empty freezer for us, and that took about one third of them. Next we travelled about 40 kilometres to our son Andrew’s house at Primrose Sands, filling his freezer to the top also. (He will also use them for baking). Nevertheless, we had many packets still to find space for. Andrew’s neighbour reportedly had a little freezer space, so we rang him at the local RSL and he immediately came home to accommodate the last few packets.
And so the blackberries are now being put to good use. Alistair has used nearly all of them and Denis is no doubt picking again. We so lucky to have such wonderful produce available. He has also grown a small crop of raspberries behind his garden shed, fruit with an unbelievably intense flavour. He has also promised to plant more raspberry canes for us so that in 2 years time, we will have access to as many organic raspberries as we could possibly want, grown in the pristine environment of the hills behind Port Arthur.
Here is a simple recipe for blackberry jam – serve this on fresh baked bread or with scones and whipped cream for a special treat.
1 kg blackberries
Juice 1 lemon
Place the blackberries and lemon juice in a pot and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes over low heat.
Add the sugar and bring back to the boil, stirring. Boil briskly for 20 minutes. Stand for 5 minutes, then pour into warm sterilised jars and seal immediately.