Brambles, blackberries whatever you call them they are one of Autumn’s most precious jewels.
It’s amazing how nowadays we just expect things. We live in a world where you can practically buy what you want when you want. Eat foods out of season, at the wrong time of the year when good old mother nature would have them sound asleep tucked in their beds of hybernation for the season to come.
Some may call this progress and moving with the times. Man calling the shots and dominating nature more and more with his use of technology and his chemical tool kit.
For me I prefer the joy that comes with the changing seasons and the excitement of the first foods that compliment that time of year. There are so many memories and feelings tied up with food.
Just now the hedgerows are full of brambles (or blackberries if you prefer, though actually it is the bush itself that is called a bramble bush and the fruits are blackberries, here in Scotland they are usually just referred to as brambles) and whenever I see them I have to pick and sample just as I did as a child.
Brambles were always more of a challenge to us berry picking kids. There was danger involved in all those prickles. The risk of tell tale juices almost tattooed under your skin as the thorns cut and juice ran from bursting berries. Days with purple stained paws and constant rows from Mum for ruining clothes.
The hunt to find the choicest berries, the fruit so perfectly ripe. Nothing puckers the lips like an unripe bramble, but a ripe one, aaaah ambrosia itself. Brambles burst like no other berry. They are like over filled water bombs that fall heavily yet softly splitting on impack and spilling their wares. They do not explode like some fruits, they infuse the mouth with flavour.
Foraging for blackberries means eating more than you bring home. All that picking and only a tiny handful of fruit makes it to the kitchen table. Is it enough for jam? For Jelly? For anything at all?
Sometimes you just have to come up with something, anything quick and easy to do with them or you know you’ll just scoff the lot and the whole foraging expedition will have been an exercise in snacking.
This simple Blackberry Fool is one of my ways to use just a handfull of berries for a delightful treat. It is a marriage of brambles and basil, two Bs that dance together very well, the spiciness of basil seems to enhanse the sweetness of the brambles without over powering in any way.
I have added my homemade cassis to add a touch of excitement to this pudding but this is purely optional and definately not for the kids.
Try this tea time treat the next time you are lucky enough to bring the brambles home.
- 100g/3½oz blackberries
- 4 large basil leaves
- 1 tbsp icing/powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp Cassis liqueur (optional)
- 100ml/3½fl oz double/heavy cream
- Pick over the blackberries, rinse and pat dry.
- Roll the basil leaves together and chop finely
- Gently heat the berries, basil and sugar in a samll pan with a tablespoon of water for about 10 minutes, the berries will release their juices and break down a bit.
- Allow this to cool and then whizz the berry mixture plus cassis if you are using it in a food processor. You can press through a sieve by hand if you want to get rid of the seeds but I don't bother.
- Whip the cream till light and fluffy but not too firmly, you want airy lightness not a solid mass.
- Carefully fold the berry mixture into the whipped cream.
- Spoon into 2 small glasses and decorate with another berry.
- Chill for 1 hour before serving to allow flavours to develop.