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It's Blackberry Season again....... - I ♥ my Kindle - 24 Aug 2013 11:35 AM

Just down the road and along the lane are some (very productive) blackberry bushes. Just along from there is an apple tree. It's along an ex-railway line, one of Beeching's ruined lines. We have recently picked 4kg of apples and about 6kg of blackberries!
1.5kg of berries in 20 minutes Thursday morning!


Last year I decided I wanted to make some cordial, but the blackberry harvest was dismal. This year it's on! Smile

I chopped around a kilo of apples (crikey they are tart), pips 'n' cores 'n' all. Added 600g of blackberries, enough water to cover about half, then boiled the lot, until the fruit was soft and pulpy.

No muslin/cheesecloth/jelly bag... no problem, an odd stocking to the rescue. Stretched over a rather large colander, balanced on a splatter guard, covering a big bowl. Dumped the lot into the stocking/jelly-bag invention and left to drain overnight.

Next morning woke up to 900ml of wonderful deep red syrupy liquid, and an odd looking, cheesy, pulpy fruity mix.
Measured out 500ml of the liquid, boiled in a pan, added 300g of sugar, boiled 'til melted. Decanted to the only clean bottle in the house  Smile

Cordial jobbed [Image: 023.gif]

400g of liquid left. Clean pan, put the liquid to boil, added 400g sugar to make blackberry/apple jelly. First time for that too, I usually make jam with whole berries, but this looks so smoooooooth Smile A tad peeved as I got some scum into the jelly, so there's a 'floater'. Not bad though for a first attempt Smile
It only made a jar and a half, but I know to adjust now for future reference Smile

As for that pulpy, cheesy mush. I was going to bin it.
I'd stuck me finger in, and while it tasted ok (still VERY tart, no sugar in there) there was a ton of pips (and apple cores, pips, skin etc).

So I sieved it.
Not for me a big sieve. Mines a tiny bit bigger than a tea strainer but I persevered and squished the lot through the tiny sieve and tomorrow I will turn it into fruit cheese.
I'd never heard of it, but equal amounts fruit pulp and sugar, boil, blah blah, just like making jam again.

I need to get another bottle or 2, as I want to try just blackberry cordial, jelly etc.
It is surprisingly difficult to find soft drinks (teetotal), in glass bottles with screw tops that isn't that nasty Schloer or blinkin' expensive. And to buy specific preserving bottles is silly money (yes, I'm tight) Smile

RE: It's Blackberry Season again....... - LindaGruchy - 24 Aug 2013 12:06 PM

How interesting. I have done much the same today. I put my stewed blackberries in a plastic sieve, use the juice for syrup and sieve the pulp foir puree. I added some sugar to this and have dried it to make leather in my new dehydrator. I made notes which I will copy and paste below.

Preserving Notes

I have tried drying quite a few things in my new dehydrator, and most has worked brilliantly. Now I’m in the realms of doing fruit leathers I need to make notes.

The first one I made a few days ago was too thin and I forgot to add the sugar.

This time I picked loads of blackberries, which converted into 1.75 pints liquid and 2 pints puree.

I added 8 oz sugar to the puree but Jo said it didn’t taste sweet enough. I had already spread 2 sheets out, so added more to the rest, then a little more to the remainder, and a little more to the remainder, so I had sweeter, sweeter still and sweetest. Then I muddled them up. After 10 hours drying, 2 sheets were ready, but the others have proved stickier and trickier. I think I will stick to 8oz to 2 pints in future. I roll them in caster sugar anyway to stop them sticking and help preserve them.

I have removed the leathers from the sheets and put them to finish drying on the fine grid sheets.

The juice: 1 pint had 1lb sugar added, after boiling, took off boil. Not all the sugar dissolved but at least it didn’t jam. The rest added 2 heaped TBS Stevia but this was too much, made it bitter, but it should be OK diluted. It won’t last, though.

All bottled in glass bottles with boiling water poured in to sterilise.

(I'm lucky because hubby stays in a hotel which provides glass bottled water and I save the bottles.

RE: It's Blackberry Season again....... - nigel p bird - 24 Aug 2013 12:08 PM

I've been checking out the blackberries and have had a few. I'm really waiting for them all to ripen and am also hoping it will happen on one of my days off.

Last week, my kids and I had a couple of afternoons harvesing raspberries and they were yum.  I made a pot or two of jam (yum) and also had something like Eton Mess (bought the merangues from the Co-0p) and we really feasted.  There were also some smoothies, mostly from a blender, but also from my 5 year-old son who just made soup and drank it while we were still out there.

Sad-but-true, I'm rarely as relaxed or contented as I am as when I'm picking berries in the woods.

RE: It's Blackberry Season again....... - LindaGruchy - 24 Aug 2013 12:08 PM

Incidentally, when I've made the syrup in previous years I have frozen it in small screw-cap yogurt drink bottles because I don't trust the longevity of the syrup since I dare not boil it too long (one batch set in the narrow necked bottles once).

RE: It's Blackberry Season again....... - LindaGruchy - 24 Aug 2013 12:20 PM

I love foraging, but it's time-consuming. Last night's picking was 3 hours. So if I were to cost my products on time alone at £6 an hour they would be £30, let alone the added sugar.

RE: It's Blackberry Season again....... - I ♥ my Kindle - 24 Aug 2013 01:01 PM

My times my own so meh to charging for it, and I enjoy the wandering, taking my camera, frog spotting etc Smile

I see it more like I've saved myself a lot of money, as if I'd bought the berries in Tesco's for instance, £2 for 150g, so 1.5 kg would cost £20 !! shocking and cost prohibitive to home cooking!!

(24 Aug 2013 12:08 PM)LindaGruchy Wrote:  Incidentally, when I've made the syrup in previous years I have frozen it in small screw-cap yogurt drink bottles because I don't trust the longevity of the syrup since I dare not boil it too long (one batch set in the narrow necked bottles once).

I was a little worried that I was going to make unintentional jelly instead, so I only boiled it for as long as it took the sugar to melt.
To make the jelly I boiled it for 5 minutes, then did a jam skin wrinkle test every couple of minutes or so until I was happy.

I keep mentioning a dehydrator to my OH, but he isn't convinced. I saw a fruit leather recipe and I was very impressed and love the idea. He just sees a huge gadget that I'll only use once or twice a year Smile
I'd like to think it's there if I want it. hehe.

RE: It's Blackberry Season again....... - LindaGruchy - 24 Aug 2013 01:08 PM

I go round the supermarkets at closing time and get the bargain fruits. I dehydrated a load of mango the other day. Also, when the bananas are going off and nobody wants them, I dehydrate them and they are yummy. Again it's time consuming.

Re the time, I agree - except I could be writing or (shudder) doing housework.

I cannot fathom buying blackberries, except, I suppose, to eat fresh. The wild ones often had a little added protein wriggling around.

That reminds me, I must sort some blackberry gin out.

RE: It's Blackberry Season again....... - ElaineG - 24 Aug 2013 01:34 PM

my blackberries are just ripening off now, so should be able to have some nice crumbles. I am a supermarket forager as well - the cheaper the fruit the better for smoothie making Big Grin

RE: It's Blackberry Season again....... - Grace Elliot - 24 Aug 2013 05:14 PM

Certainly seems to be a good year for blackberries - some huge plump ones in the cut through near our house. A tip though - never pick the ones low down where the dogs cock their legs...just saying ...

RE: It's Blackberry Season again....... - B J Burton - 25 Aug 2013 07:41 AM

Yes, it's becoming a great blackberry season. I think we're getting the perfect mix - enough rain to swell the fruit and enough sun to ripen it. We've already had several pies and crumbles.
ILMK - you may be tea-total but your friends and neighbours may not be and many wines now come in screw-topped bottles.
What will you do with the leathers, Linda? Eat them as they are as snacks or cook with them?