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How to pick & cook blackberries

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Make the most of blackberry season with our guide to picking and storing these delicious foraged fruits, plus discover our best blackberry recipes.

Few things sum up British summertime better than a scramble among blackberry bushes clutching an empty margarine tub or Tupperware box. Providing you're not trespassing on private property, blackberry picking is an excellent way of sourcing a cheap summer pud. These deep purple berries are also packed with goodness, rich in vitamins and minerals and protective plant compounds called anthocyanins. Read more about the health benefits of blackberries.

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Crumbles and pies aside, what can you do with this bountiful berry? Here are our top tips for handling all that free fruit, along with a selection of our favourite blackberry recipes. Also, see our round-up of top 15 blackberry recipes for even more culinary ideas.

How to choose blackberries

Like many things in life, the most successful blackberries will be ones that stand out from the crowd. They should be shiny and firm when you pick them, though fruits do vary in flavour from place to place. Seasoned blackberry hunters often have favourite bushes whose harvest they prefer to any neighbouring bush. You can try before you start picking, so shop around to find what suits you, avoiding bushes by busy roads and any fruit that is low enough to be ‘watered’ by passing dogs.

When to pick blackberries

Blackberries are generally at their best at the end of August to September. Legend has it any berries picked later than this are best avoided, as the devil is said to have peed on them. We're not sure this is true, but by October the damp weather will have certainly soiled many crops.

Picking blackberries in a tupperware box

Where to pick blackberries

Though blackberries grow in abundance in hedgerows across the country, they can also regularly be spotted along canal paths and across wasteland in towns and cities alike.

How to harvest blackberries

Although it's hard to resist raiding each hedgerow, try not to stack loads of berries on top of each other or they'll bruise and squash before you get them home. Use a couple of containers if you want to pick lots of berries. It's always good to leave plenty for other pickers, too.

How to store blackberries

Frozen blackberries in a tupperware box

Try to keep blackberries dry when storing and they should last for two to three days. If you're refrigerating them, they'll taste much juicier if you let them come to room temperature before eating. Don't worry if you've picked more than you can handle – blackberries are easily frozen and can be baked straight from the freezer with no need to defrost. Freeze them on a tray in a single layer so they don't all squish together, or purée them first then freeze the liquid in a bag or ice cube tray.

What to cook with blackberries?

Whether you serve them in a traditional crumble or whip up a savoury sauce to pair with meat, make the most of a glut of berries with our delicious range of recipes for every occasion. Also check out our collection of blackberry recipes and pick of top 15 blackberry recipe ideas for more inspiration.

Savoury options

Two tartines topped with ricotta, pine nuts and blackberries

Blackberry sauce tastes great with venison, or serve the berries whole with pigeon and other game birds. These purple beauties also make fantastic salads. Try our blackberry, beetroot & goat's cheese salad for a colourful starter with a burst of sweetness, or our quick lunch of ricotta, blackerry & pine nut tartines. The smooth, creamy cheese goes perfectly with the sweet-sharp berries.

Sweet treats

Blackberry and orange cake topped with icing

When the chillier nights draw in, there's little more comforting than a hearty blackberry pie or apple & blackberry crumble served with a dollop of ice cream. For the perfect dinner party dessert, make our slow cooker muscovado cheesecake with blackberries & hazelnuts.

We've also got a wealth of teatime treats for using up this tart berry. Make our citrusy blackberry & orange cake for a seasonal showstopper or enjoy a slice of this easy blackberry & apple loaf with your afternoon cuppa. We've even given the classic sandwich cake a seasonal twist with our super light and fluffy blackberry victoria sponge. On the snacking front, these delicate blackberry doughnuts make for a super fruity, sugar-dusted treat, whilst our blackberry muffins provide an on-the-go energy boost.

For something lighter, add blackberry coulis to ice cream, pancakes and jelly, or layer with meringue for an impressive pud. Want to beat the heat? Try our blackberry & cider ice lollies for a grown-up summer treat.

Make the most of your foraged goods in our top 10 autumn baking recipes.

Seasonal spreads

Blackberry jam in a selection of glass jars and on toast

Turn your glut of summer fruits into a delicious preserve. Our easy blackberry jam is perfect for spreading across a slice of buttered toast in the morning, or pair with apples for some extra tang. If you have a more savoury tooth, then whip up a batch of our bramble jelly or spiced blackberry chutney to enjoy with cheese and crackers.

Blackberry drinks

Blackberry gin in two glasses and a jug

To make a fruity liqueur, mash blackberries lightly with sugar, push through a sieve, pour into a clean bottle then top up with your spirit of choice. Our vibrant blackberry gin truly encapsulates summer in a bottle and makes for a great homemade gift. Or make it richer with a classic crème de mûre, fortified with red wine.

Looking for a summer party cocktail? Mix up an attractive pink bramble, or serve a gently effervescent blackberry gin fizz. We've also got you covered on non-alcoholic options - kids will love this zingy blackberry lemonade whilst grown-ups can sip on a delightfully sweet and sharp frozen blackberry smoothie, complete with notes of banana, stem ginger and pomegranate juice.

Find more seasonal sips in our round-up of top 10 autumnal cocktails.

Enjoyed these recipes? Check out our other fruity guide...

The health benefits of blackberries
Top 15 blackberry recipe ideas
Our ultimate blackberry collection

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