Today I’m going to talk about something that is useful as well as pretty. this flower graces our hedgerows every spring and gives us wonderful free fruit in the summer.
I am, of course, referring to the Bramble.
Bramble fruits are known as blackberries because of their black colour. And they are delicious in a pie or crumble, especially when paired with apples.
As you can see, the fruit is red before it turns black, but it is only ripe when black. The red fruits are hard and sour. Each ‘fruit’ is made up of a number of small
Brambles are found in hedgerows and have long, thorny stems. Gathering them can be a somewhat painful experience, but well worth the occasional scratch.
If you wait too long to go out foraging for this delicious fruit, you will find the wildlife has got there before you. Not only humans, but the birds enjoy this fruit as well as a variety of insects.
Brambles belong to the Rosaceae family, which also includes the rose. Five heart-shaped petals and five sepals. The leaves are divided into three or five serrated leaflets. The leaf stalks are also prickly.
They grow almost anywhere, and have long roots which, I can tell you from experience, are almost impossible to get up. In spite of their wonderful fruits, they are a nuisance when they appear in your garden. They can root and produce new plants if the stems touch the ground, thus quickly taking over. This isn’t a problem in the hedges or scrubland, but not welcome in the garden.
Having said that, they are important to wildlife. They are a food source for bees, both honey and bumble. Some caterpillars eat their leaves, and foxes badgers, mice and birds eat the berries. A large clump will also provide a good habitat for wildlife, especially grass snakes (which, incidentally, are harmless).
You can buy cultivated blackberries in the supermarkets, but why would you do that? You can get this fruit absolutely free, and it’s a great afternoon out with the kids.
Just be sure that everyone has long sleeves, and if you have a dog, make sure he doesn’t like them, too. I had a dog that enjoyed them, abd we couldn’t put the bowl of gathered fruit down or he’d eat them.
I gave the name of Bramble to a dog that attached itself to Fero in my Wolves of Vimar series, Book 2, The Never Dying Man.
If you want to make a blackberry and apple crumble, it’s the easiest thing in the world.
- Peel and slice the apples and mix with the washed blackberries and put into an ovenproof dish, size depending on how much fruit you have.
- Add sugar to the blackberries and apples, according to your taste.
- In a large bowl, sift 170 grammes (6 oz ) of plain (all purpose) flour.
- Add 85 grammes (3oz) softened butter, cut into small pieces. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add 85 grammes (3oz) of caster sugar and mix well in.
- Sprinkle the flour mixture over the fruit and press down slightly.
- Sprinkle with sugar (optional) and cook in a pre-heated oven, 180C, until golden brown.
- Serve with custard or ice cream.
You can alter the quantities of crumble mix depending on the amount of fruit you have.
I had some of the mix left over last time I made a crumble. I seemed a waste to throw it away, so I pressed some into a couple of biscuit moulds and put them in the oven. I cooked them until they were golden brown. They turned out to be rather sweet, but crunchy biscuits!
For more recipes, and a few old-fashioned hints, you can buy Viv’s Family Recipes by clicking on the link, or the book cover in the sidebar. You can then choose your favourite book site to buy.
In this recipe book I give some tried and trusted recipes from my family and friends, as well as some from my grandma, dated 1909. (Most of which I’ve not tried! They are very carb and fat-heavy, and many require long cooking. But it’s interesting to see what they used to eat in days gone by.)
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Maria and Tom have bought an antique table for the old cottage they have bought. When they hear strange noises in the night that sound like crying, they worry their house is haunted, but the sounds seem to come from the table.
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