Of all the seasonal traditions, blackberry picking has to be one of my personal favourites.
Anyone can do it. It's free, it's productive, it's healthy, it doesn't celebrate anyone's death, or terrorise elderly neighbours. It's just you, a bramble bush, a bag and a delicious, versatile fruity treat.
Ah blackberries - that most egalitarian of crops. Accessible to almost everyone, regardless of where you live, with no specialist tools needed to gather or process.
Almost everyone knows a good blackberry bush. As long as it's not next to a very busy road, they will be fine to eat. (It's maybe a good idea to avoid branches at dog level too ;) )
I love filling my face as I pick, revelling in that sharp, earthy sun-ripened sweetness! It appeals to my womanly-multi-tasking ethos to go and enjoy the early Autumn weather, to go for a little ramble, and return home with the means to produce all manner of delicious things - jams, cakes, pies, crumbles, wine, liqueurs, sorbets and sponges. And they're full of fibre and vitamins too.
Even a humble bun mixture can be enhanced by the addition of one plump blackberry in the middle of each filled bun case, ready to explode in the mouth with a tangy jam when the bun is eaten!
I have a lovely, thriving spineless blackberry bush on my allotment. But though the fruits are huge, dark and glossy, the taste just can't compete with its wilder cousins. So every dog walk means I take a tub out, for more free goodies from the field and hedgerow.
Today I'm freezing some for winter desserts. Just as soon as I can stop my boys from eating the tubful I picked this morning...