blackberry picking


There is a certain nostalgia attached to blackberry picking. Mention blackberry picking and I imagine happy families, wicker basket in hand wandering along the hedgerows on a sunny autumnal afternoon. The reality of our blackberry is picking is slightly less romantic, as Beth and I lean precariously over ditches, stand on tiptoe to reach high branches and debate the lowest height of a pickable blackberry (answer – no lower than a large dog can cock his leg).

It’s a good year for wild blackberries though the fruits are ripening very unevenly. On a single bush, dark purple berries disintegrate into mush alongside ripening berries of every colour from the hard green immature berry through pink and red to shiny purple fruits bursting with juice. It also seems a plentiful year for wasps, which inhabit every bush we pick, though they’re getting so dozy now that they just drop off the berry at the slightest shake of the branch.

Picking done, our hands scratched and purple stained, we return home laden with boxes filled with ripe blackberries. Most of the fruit goes straight to Slamseys Drinks, where it’s steeped in gin to produce a deep coloured Blackberry Gin, but I usually manage to divert some of the berries to the kitchen.

This week I’ve been cooking the blackberries with apples, damsons or raspberries to make a compote to spoon over our breakfast muesli or stir into yoghurt. When we’re fed up with that, I’ll make blackberry & apple betties or maybe a pie.

blackberries with white chocolate cream

The raspberries are still fruiting but I’m running out of ideas for eating them, so it makes a welcome change to mix them with blackberries to eat with white chocolate cream.

Tonight though, we have Blackberry Jelly. Well, strictly speaking Blackberry & Blackberry Gin Jelly. Double blackberry. It makes a dark, rich jelly that we’ll eat with gingernut biscuits that are cooling as I write. We may even have a little Blackberry Gin cocktail to accompany our pudding. Triple blackberry.
Blackberry Jelly Recipe
400g blackberries
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
Juice ½ lemon
Pinch of cinnamon
100ml Blackberry Gin
4 gelatine leaves

Simmer the blackberries with the sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and 300ml water.

While they’re cooking, soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water.

When the blackberries have cooked to the point of collapse, drain them through a sieve. If you want a bright, clear jelly then don’t press the pulp. Quite frankly, I want every drop of juice and don’t mind a slightly opaque jelly. The choice is yours.

Whisk the softened gelatine into the hot juice and then stir in the Blackberry Gin.

Pour into a mould and leave to set overnight in a cold place.

Unmould and devour.

17 thoughts on “blackberry picking

  1. Pat Machin says:

    Oh, my! Why have I not heard of your Blackberry Gin before? It looks lovely.

    I know what you mean about our romantic notions about picking blackberries. It’s the golden glow of yesteryear that never was.

    The reality is always stinging nettles on my legs, wayward brambles in my hair, thorns in my fingers. Worth it though!


  2. rusty duck says:

    The White Chocolate cream with blackberries and raspberries is really tickling my fancy.. not to mention the Blackberry Gin.

    My childhood memories of blackberry picking are somewhat clouded by my mother managing to achieve a simultaneous connection between her metal colander, my metal colander and an electric fence.


  3. Mrs Thomasina Tittlemouse says:

    Oh yummy yummy yummy! Sorry but that pic of blackberries and white chocolate cream has made me a bit incoherent! And a blackberry gin-spiked jelly has got to be the business especially with ginger biscuits warm from the oven! Happy picking! E x


  4. Glenda says:

    Hi Anne, I just had what I thought was a blackberry crumble (I was given the berries) but my guests questioned whether they were in fact blackberries. It appears blackberries are outlawed here. Maybe you can help. They look like blackberries but they are more red than black. Any ideas? Thanks.


      • Glenda says:

        Hi Anne, Crumble was great. I am a little confused. My guests have wild blackberries on their property and the authority requires that they spray them every year. Maybe the cultivated varieties are not so rampant. My neighbour, who gave me the berries, would not grow anything that was a nuisance. (She gave me raspberries because they sent up runners and she only wanted a nice shrub.) So bugger if I know.


  5. Jas@AbsolutelyJas says:

    I love the thought of being able to go out and pick wild blackberries! They’re classified as a noxious weed here, so the wild ones are sprayed with poison 😦 Blackberry gin sounds delicious too!


  6. thegardendeli says:

    Like many things, blackberry picking is better as a memory – once the nettle stings have faded it seems like a fun thing to do! Other commenters have already noted that blackberry gin should be better known… I have the blackberries, just need to get hold of some gin


  7. maggie says:

    Hello! Just stumbled across this site and wondered if anyone could advise? I made blackberry gin which has been bottled for 10 days,I went to get it this morning and was shocked to find it had solidified! Should I throw it 😦 or can it be saved by heating slightly until it turns to a liquid? Made it especially for a weekend away and ill be gutted if it can’t be used.


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