Summer and autumn foraging- a quick how-to
Blackberry season is in full swing here- and looking like it will be over all too soon.
So, hoping that lots of people will get out and about very soon to pick blackberries in their local area, We thought a bit of a how-to would be useful for anyone feeling underconfident or a bit uncertain about picking wild fruit.
Look for fruit in your local parks and open spaces- anywhere that you're allowed to access and that has stuff growing. Blackberries in particular grow almost everywhere, unless there is someone weeding the plants out- so neglected areas are brilliant for blackberries.
1. Make sure you know what you're picking. Blackberries are very identifiable- but if you're not sure, check with someone who knows what they are for certain or investigate online until you feel confident. Never eat anything you've picked if you're not certain what it is!
2. Take packable bags or old food tubs with you when you go out walking. There's little more annoying than finding a fantastic berry patch and having nothing to put them in. The no-tubs problem is also likely to leave you with stained clothes when you decide it's fine to fill a jumper with berries and they're probably not all that squishy...
3. Don't pick berries near busy roads. The berries will be contaminated with stuff you don't want to eat (not lead, these days- but still, not great eating car particulates and so on).
4. Don't pick berries below about knee height unless you're really certain they can't have been wee'd on by dogs! This is harder for small children to stick to- but really, yuck!
5. Give creatures a bit of time to crawl out of your containers - either leave them open while you're picking more, or leave them open for a while when you get home. Unless you really want to eat spider or beetle with your crumble?
6. Freeze any berries you're not going to use in the next couple of days- the containers (see above for minimising bug content) can just be stuck straight in the freezer provided the berries are dry, then you can use the berries straight from frozen. Keep any you plan to use within a day or two in the fridge.
7. But... if it's been wet or very humid weather the berries will go mouldy EXTREMELY fast- cook everything you've picked immediately! If you don't want to make anything specific, microwaving or cooking the fruit in a pan with a tiny bit of water until it is boiling hot (with or without sugar) will kill the moulds and preserve the fruit. Then you can cool and freeze the cooked fruit to use later. Make sure you label with the date and whether or not you added sugar, to avoid nasty surprises!
Once some more things start ripening, we'll be posting extra ideas- and keep an eye out for recipes to use up all the stuff you find!