It’s blackberry picking time, and this year there are definitely more than usual. Whether this is because the blackberry bushes were left to spread during lockdown, or because people aren’t picking them for sanitary reasons, I’m not complaining! Sometimes it can be difficult to know what to do with them all. It goes without saying that the biggest and tastiest ones should be eaten immediately; the rest can be frozen and used in the delicious dishes below.

Wild blackberries can be rather sharp, so here are a few recipes to sweeten them up a little, taking you through the seasons. 

Simple summer sorbet 

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Sorbet, ice cream’s sweet ’n stylish sister! This blackberry sorbet is extremely easy to make and very refreshing. 

Ingredients

  • 500g fresh blackberries, or frozen blackberries, defrosted 
  • Squeeze of lemon juice 
  • Tablespoon of icing sugar 
  • 250g caster sugar 
  • 300ml water 
  • 1 tbsp gin (improves the texture of the sorbet and won’t impact the flavour, but is optional)

Method

First things first, make a sugar syrup with the sugar and water. This may sound difficult, but I promise it’s not! Put both ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil on a low heat, without stirring. Once the sugar has dissolved, take the saucepan off the heat and leave to cool. 

For the blackberry purée, cook the blackberries in a pan on medium heat with the lemon juice, icing sugar and a splash of water, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t stick, for fifteen to twenty minutes. Blitz the mixture in a food processor then sieve to remove the seeds, or pass through a mouli if you have one. 

Combine the sugar syrup, blackberry purée and gin (if using), then leave to cool in the fridge for at least four hours. Pick a container to store your sorbet and place in the freezer for an hour before churning. 

Now for the exciting bit. If you have an ice-cream maker, pour in your mixture and let the machine work its magic until you have a firm sorbet (approximately 40 minutes). An excellent result can also be achieved without an ice-cream maker, but with a bit more TLC. Simply pop the mixture into the freezer, stirring every fifteen minutes or so, until frozen (two to three hours). 

This sumptuously smooth sorbet would be perfect paired with meringue, Eton mess style. Alternatively, add a little texture with my lemon crunch biscuits (pictured below – head over to @greens_and_grains for the recipe), or just enjoy it on its own! 

Not-so-humble autumn crumble 

Nothing beats a crumble with a dollop of creme fraîche on the side. In the following recipe sweet apricots balance sour wild blackberries. I like to jazz up the crumble topping with oats and nuts, but feel free to keep it simple.

Ingredients

  • 175g flour 
  • 115g butter, cold, cubed
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 50g oats 
  • 50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped 
  • 300g blackberries 
  • 700g apricots, de-stoned, and cut into quarters (roughly 650g de-stoned weight) 
  • Squeeze of lemon 

Method

Preheat the oven to 175C. Precook the apricots in a saucepan with a splash of water and a squeeze of lemon juice over a medium heat for seven minutes, adding the blackberries for the last two minutes. Meanwhile prepare your crumble topping by rubbing the flour, butter, and sugar together in a large bowl until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir through the oats. 

Spoon your semi-stewed fruit into a large baking dish, then sprinkle your crumble mixture on top. Bake for half an hour to 45 minutes, adding the chopped hazelnuts five or so minutes before the end. When golden brown and and oozing at the edges, take it out the oven and leave to cool for ten minutes. 

This crumble is on the tart side – if you prefer it  slightly sweeter, sprinkle 25g Demerara sugar on top five minutes before the end of cooking.  

Warming winter compote 

As autumn turns to winter, fresh berries are no longer in season. However this is the perfect time to get some frozen blackberries out of the freezer and stew them. Jam or jelly, compote or coulis, there are so many different ways of making the most of frozen fruit, the simplest of which is the compote. 

Ingredients

  • Blackberries 
  • Lemon (optional) 

Method

Cook the blackberries in a pan on medium heat with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of water, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t stick, for fifteen to twenty minutes. If it starts to stick, add another splash of water. It’s that simple! 

This compote is lovely when it is still hot swirled into a bowl of yoghurt with a few seeds sprinkled on top for crunch. Cold, it’s lovely on top of vanilla ice cream or a steaming bowl of porridge. Store in a tupperware for five days to a week in the fridge.

Images by Isobel Sanders