The blackberries are in season! The hot days of summer have ripened these hedgerow fruits. They are plump and juicy, glistening by the paths and walkways, just waiting to be collected and eaten.
Pumpjack’s thrice daily (or more if Chewie has his way) dog walks gives me an early warning system that the blackberries are ready. With baskets to hand, we wander out to collect as much a we can.
There is something immensely satisfying about a full basket of blackberries, and dreams of what they can become. We planned muffins, cakes, crumbles, smoothies and ice cream. But, in the end, simply some cream and a wonderfully large bowl each gave us our first taste of the height of summer as we sat in the garden enjoying the late afternoon sun.
As they days build in summer heat, early mornings are the time to go picking. This morning I discovered a whole bush of them in our own hedge. Laden down with big juicy blackberries.
Our hedge has various blackberry brambles dotted amongst it. To Pumpjack it is a weed needing to be eradicated. To me, I hope in the ensuing years I can find a way to train some of the brambles to keep producing regular and easy to reach fruit. Now I just have to work out how to get it out of the hedge.
What will I make with this mornings haul? The thought of blackberry coconut ice cream has my taste buds tingling. I love making ice cream with coconut milk. It just adds an extra yummy flavour. And, I can make it without an ice cream maker. It is very easy to do.
Ingredients: 1 tin/can coconut milk, 2 cups/500 ml fresh blackberries, juice of 1/2 a lemon, and 1/4 – 1/2 cup/50 – 100 ml sweetner of your choice. I recommend maple or agave syrup, but you can use what you like or have to hand. Quantity depends on how sweet you like your ice cream.
To make: Whizz all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. If you like fairly smooth ice cream, eg not lots of fruit bits, whizz until smooth. Pour it into a freezable container. Freeze for 1 hour. Take out and stir. Repeat until you get a nice thick consistency. Then eat.
This can also be done using an ice cream maker, if you have one. It will give you a creamier texture, less sorbet like, but both taste absolutely delicious.
(And note, this recipe is vegan, should you ever have to feed a vegan or vegetarian.)
More Ice Cream!
Speaking of Vegan (paleo, etc.) I have been experimenting with making banana based ice cream. That is using frozen bananas instead of cream bases. It is super, super easy! And you have ice cream read in minutes.
You need to have super ripe bananas, so if you have a couple of browning bananas sitting about, this is a recipe to try.
Peel and cut up the banana into bite size pieces. Freeze. (I recommend freezing on a tray, or they get stuck together, but it’s not completely necessary if you don’t have the space for this in your freezer.) You can freeze for as little as 2 hours, or simply leave in freezer until you are ready.
Take the equivalent of 2 frozen bananas and put them in a blender, or something that will whizz and cut them up. Add a cup of blackberries. Add a teaspoon of vanilla (optional). Whizz. Et voila! You have blackberry ice cream ready to eat in minutes.
Depending on how stuck together your banana pieces are you may have to stop and start your machine a bit, or scrape down the sides. But don’t worry just keep at it until you get the consistency you like.
If you are one for an actual recipe rather than experimentation, I link it here.
And for those extra blackberries
If you are like us, we always collect way more blackberries than we can eat. (Honest, it does happen.) Don’t be frightened of freezing any excess. Lay your fruit as a single layer on a tray. I use an old pizza box, lined with cling film. Put it in the freezer for an hour. After the hour you can pour into a bag or container for easier storage. By fast freezing first on a tray it stops your fruit from clumping together into a solid frozen lump.
If you like blackberry picking and foraging (or the idea of foraging), do read our (8 reasons why you should try) Foraging post.