February 17, 2013

Seasonal regional: Blackberries

One of my favourite things to do during summer is go berry picking. To head off into the countryside with its hot sun, flies and prickles and return scratched, stained and with a bucket full of goodness. I mean, how else would you try to relax on the weekend?

Understandably, it might not be everyone's ideal, but to me the scent of wild blackberries as the sun first hits is just heavenly, and out there in the peace and quiet I can think of fewer places I'd rather be.

Blackberries are an aggregate fruit formed of drupelets, and are distinguished from their raspberry relatives by keeping the torus in the fruit (with raspberries, the torus remains on the plant, leaving a hole). They're commonly referred to as brambles, and as this term means impenetrable shrub, it's easy to see why.

Luckily for me my cousin has a glorious stand of wild blackberries growing on their farm, and after a thoroughly successful outing from which plenty of berries were stored, it was time to try my hand at a few new berry-based treats.

One of the best sorbet recipes I've ever come across is one that uses blackberries and rose geranium. It's a romantic combination, and one I figured would hold up rather nicely as jam, so first up was this scented take on that all-time classic, blackberry and apple jam.

Along with summer's berry bounty figs are also at their peak, and with some gorgeous examples appearing at our farmer's market stalls, dessert just had to be these little fig and blackberry pies.

Attempting to make a delicately soft butter pastry when it's 35 degrees perhaps wasn't the best idea, but despite their rustic appearance they were delicious nonetheless, and since there's no sense in having pie without cream I threw in a side of blackberry and honey ice cream, just for good measure.

All that's left now is to plot what to do with the rest of the haul...

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