By Samuel Turner |
Blackberries are one of few fruits that are plentiful this time of year. You can pick them up for free if you are willing and able to spend a bit of time in the wild foraging for them. Foraging is a great way to eat more sustainably, seasonally, and adventurously, and as I already mentioned, it’s totally free – Have I got your attention students?
Blackberries are one of the safest, easiest foods to start foraging for as a beginner. They are easily identifiable, very common, and taste great without the need to stew, boil, or pickle them.
“Foraging is a great way to eat more sustainably, seasonally and adventurously”
Here are some golden rules to keep in mind if you are thinking about foraging:
- Never pick, eat, or touch anything if you are unsure what it is!
- Never pick anything below knee height (i.e- dog pee height).
- Never pick anything near polluted or dangerous areas, such as alongside main roads.
- Wash any foraged items before eating.
- Wear the correct clothing. You don’t want to get nasty bramble cuts, or a stain on your best shorts!
- Only forage the amount of food you need, it’s important to support sustainable foraging!
You can eat blackberries practically straight away after washing, whether as a fruit snack, in a smoothie, or on top of muesli. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, however, here is a recipe that is slightly naughtier than the standard 1 of your 5-A-Day… This is a recipe for blackberry ice cream.
Now don’t worry, this recipe does not require churning, fancy ingredients, expensive machinery, nor a culinary degree — all it takes is some elbow grease, some freezer space, and a student that loves ice cream. Sounding good?
When I tested this recipe, I went foraging round in Penryn with one of my flatmates. We found that the best, safest and most plentiful place to find blackberries was on the public footpaths around the college reservoir. I also let my flatmate (who had never made ice cream before) take the lead, just to see how simple the recipe was, and it worked out very well!
All you will need:
– One tin of condensed milk (397g)
– A pot of double cream (300ml)
– 2 tablespoons of sugar
– Half a teaspoon vanilla extract
– Half a punnet of blackberries
Sadly, it isn’t possible to forage any of the ingredients besides the blackberries in this recipe, so a trip to the supermarket is also in order. Of course, for those of you that do not fancy or are unable to forage, this recipe can be made entirely with shop-bought ingredients.
- Wash and dry the blackberries. Then, using a fork/masher/ food processor, blend the blackberries into a pulp.
2. Pour the double cream into a large bowl, and whisk until soft peaks form and hold stiff (this is where the elbow grease comes in!). At this point, fold the condensed milk into the cream, ensuring not too much air is lost.
3. Once mixed, pour in your blitzed blackberries, sugar, and vanilla extract. Fold these in, ensuring not to lose too much air.
Note: If you are feeling fancy you could even add some mint to the ice cream, or try and ripple the blackberries through the mixture to add a visual element.
4. Place mixture into a tub with a lid – an old ice cream tub works perfectly. Place in the freezer overnight.
By the next morning you will have ice cream! I’m not sure if it is the best breakfast choice, but it will be ready to eat whenever you like. Once it is frozen you can work your way through it night by night with a boxset, or have a bowl as a treat after completing a deadline (that is, if it lasts with flatmates looming!).
Note: this recipe is flexible! You can add whatever flavours you like – it doesn’t have to be blackberries. You could add chocolate, caramel, biscuits/ whatever you fancy.
I hope this recipe inspires you to go out and start foraging, but please do make sure follow the golden rules! There is plenty more information about foraging out there if you would like to know more. The River Cottage handbooks are a particularly great place to start your research.