Every year around mid-September we look forward to collecting Blackberries and making a pie. It is a fabulous opportunity to get outside and have some fun together as a family; The kids love it.
That said, over the past few years, these pesky little nobbly berries have been getting harder and harder to find!
A great day for all the family
Last weekend we set off into the wilderness to gather our freshly plucked Blackberries. Believe me, when I say, It was no easy feat! We scoured hedgerows in all the usual places you would expect to find Blackberry bushes.
The first location we tried was canal side at Marple Locks in Cheshire.
Although a stunningly beautiful place to walk and littered with brambles, we had no such luck all the berries were dried and dead!. My best guess is the fumes and pollutants from the passing narrowboats had something to do with it. To be honest, not exactly something you would want to consume either!
We did, however, stumble upon a small wooded area cutting through to a churchyard, though again most of the Blackberries were inaccessible and mushy.
Lianne managed to gather a few reasonable berries by climbing up a wobbly stone wall but certainly not enough to bake a pie. As she was rummaging through the brambles a lovely lady walking by with her dog, laughed at us and mentioned she had seen quite a few earlier in the week as she was walking through Ethrow country park.
At this point still being almost empty handed we decided to head on out and try a different area.
The second location.
We didn’t quite make it to Ethrow country park, well, technically speaking, I got lost! That said, we were in the general vicinity as Lianne had “sat-naved” us there and we did pass a sign pointing in the direction of what looked very much like the back of a pub! At this stage, as we had continued to drive we decided it probably best probably turn around and try to find out where we should have been.
However, as I turned off onto a side road, we discovered the most fantastic spot ever!
The dead-end street onto which we turned was, in fact, a very steep hill, and it looked as though the houses and flats there were recently built. But! There was a proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” or street as our case would have it!
Foraging for your fresh ingredients is great fun.
We found a public footpath that led us between lush green fields behind the homes. It just so happened that the path that was very overgrown, probably not used much and was lined with brambles as far as the eye could see. We were in Blackberry picking heaven!
We filled our bags with as many as we could get our hands on. The kids absolutely loved picking the berries and couldn’t wait to show us when they found a “good one”. They even enjoyed the occasional squished berry between the fingers, in fact, H found his purple hands highly amusing!
In all honesty, it is the first time in a while I have seen them both get really stuck into something wholeheartedly, for more than 5 minutes. It truly was a great day, and everybody had fun.
Did you know?
Damian Carrington of the Guardian writes; Three-quarters of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmates, according to a new survey revealing the extent to which time playing in parks, wood and fields has shrunk. A fifth of the children did not play outside at all on an average day, the poll found.
A few general tips to remember when foraging your own fruit:
Wear wellies, hedgerows and the edge of fields are often muddy this time of year even if it isn’t raining now; it probably has been!
Use gloves if you don’t fancy coming away with purple hands.
Wear old or dark clothing as sometimes the “duff” berries will squirt you!
Take several disposable plastic bags or boxes to carry your berries home in afterwards be sure to protect your car interior. Things can get quite juicy in the bag after a while.
Soaking your berries in salt water for a few hours will kill any mites and grubs clinging on. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly afterwards though.
You’d think we would be making a pie, right?
Right! We did both make a pie. Mine left a lot to be desired! In all honesty, it was a complete and utter shambles. Not even the tasty kind of disaster that you sometimes get. Nope, I failed big time on this one! Lianne, on the other hand, did manage to create some rather tasty specimens, however, left the majority of the pastry lining the baking tin!
Ah well, there’s always next year or better still Tescos!