Wild Blackberry Wine

Many older foraging books, and my childhood memories of the 1980’s, insist that blackberries are an autumnal fruit rarely seen before the end of August. These days if you wait until autumn to pick blackberries you will be disappointed. The changing climate now means an early August harvest.

Wild blackberry wine

Blackberry wine photography Roy Hunt

For most, the blackberry is the first (and often only) food that will be foraged. It is my hope that it will become as popular to ferment as it is to turn into a crumble, as Blackberry wine is one of the best homemade wines.

Blackberry wine has a robust, fruity flavour and bouquet, while slipping down a little too easily. And start one now and it will be more than ready for Christmas.

Brambles can be found on wasteground, parks, and in hedges. Picking the fruit is not without its hazards, and the thorns make plastic bags a no-go – one snag of your bag and a day’s pickings are lost to the hedgerow. Indeed, it is the thorns that give blackberries one of their country names, “lawyers”; once they trap you in it is very difficult to get loose.

Andy Hamilton picking blackberries

Andy Hamilton picking blackberries taken by Roy Hunt

Blackberries (or brambles) tend to take over wasteground if left unchecked. They can also be found on the edges of parks, in wooded thickets, by railway lines and cycle paths, at field edges and as undergrowth in forests.

BLACKBERRY WINE
2kg blackberries
Half cup of strong black tea
1.5kg sugar
4 litres water
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp pectolase
Red wine yeast
1 tsp yeast nutrient

To extract more juice from the fruit it helps if you keep the berries in the freezer overnight, then allow them to thaw before using. Ensure they are clean and place into a fermentation bin. Crush with your clean hands or a sterilized stainless steel/plastic potato masher. Pour over 1 litre of boiling water and the sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the further 2.5 litres of cold water then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Cover, and leave to stand in a warm place for 3 days.

Strain into a demijohn and attach the air lock. Rack after a month and allow to ferment out. Enjoy your blackberry wine with a blue cheesecake.

Blackberries – The Lunchbreak forager

Blackberries aka Brambles

Andy Hamilton picking blackberries

Andy Hamilton picking blackberries by Roy Hunt

Blackberries (or brambles) can be found throughout the Northern hemisphere and in South America, although they will struggle in the far North but with climate change we may see a movement north. Indeed, last year I found blackberries in December and there were enough for a blackberry and apple crumble! Blackberries can be found as the understory in woods and forests, on waste ground, on the edges of parks and really it would seem almost anywhere they choose.

Foraging for blackberries

Many make the mistake when out foraging for blackberries of using a plastic carrier bag. This is a mistake you will only make once, as its easy to tear the bag. When the blackberries end up within a mass of thorns there is no way you’d want to lose that amount of delicious fruit again. It is these thorns that give blackberries one of their country names “lawyers”, once they trap you in it is very difficult to get loose!

It is interesting to note that blackberries used to be the garden plant, whilst raspberries would be seen as wild. Over the last 500 or more years this has changed and changed rather dramatically.

Blackberries are excellent for wine making but perhaps that is not so easy to make on your lunch break, much better to mix them with a whole load of delicious calories!

Blackberry fool

If you have an understanding boss you can make this at work, all you need to bring in with you is an electric whisk, a sieve and a couple of bowls. If you don’t have an understanding boss try and tempt them with a bowl (emphasising the word fool when you offer it for your own amusement), “Do you want some blackberry fool”.

Ingredients

500g Blackberries
150g Caster Sugar
Juice of Half a Lemon
400ml Double Cream
3 Drops Vanilla Essence

Method

Push the blackberries through a sieve and combine with the sugar in a bowl. Squeeze in the lemon juice. In a separate bowl whisk the double cream until thick, adding the vanilla essence. Fold the contents of the bowls together. Pop in the fridge to chill for an hour or so. Then serve.

Mouth-watering Blackberry, Chocolate Yogurt Parfait

Ridiculously simple to make but if you sit at your desk eating this the dieters in your office won’t thank you for it.

Ingredients

1 tub of Greek yogurt
Half teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Dark Chocolate Chopped up into Chunks
50g Chopped Hazelnuts
200g Blackberries

Method

Mix the yogurt with the cinnamon and put half of it into a wine glass. Layer half the chocolate and half the hazelnuts. Mash half the blackberries and layer on top. Spoon in the rest of the yogurt mixture and cover with the rest of the chocolate and nuts. If you want to jazz it up a bit then use a mixture of different nuts.