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Seasonal Ingredient: Blackberries

September is when these delicious berries are at their absolute best.

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Blackberries are at their absolute best right now, so we've created this seasonal guide to help you utilise them while they're available. 

When you think of Autumn, you might imagine cooling temperatures and falling leaves, but we immediately think of blackberries. At this time of year, these deep purple berries really come into their own, showcasing their fantastic flavour and delicious texture.

What Are Blackberries?

Blackberries, a sibling of raspberries, are dark purplish-black fruits that have a rich, tart flavour. 

Some of the earliest known evidence of blackberry consumption was found in the preserved bog body of a Danish woman from around 2,500 years ago, indicating that early people from this area enjoyed these delicious berries. 

Other early examples of blackberry usage can be seen in ancient Greek, Native American and European cultures, where the fruit was commonly used for its supposed medicinal properties. The roots were used for upset stomachs, the leaves were brewed into tea which was thought to heal mouth sores and blackberries were also used to tackle scurvy, thanks to their high vitamin C content. 

In centuries gone past, as they are now, blackberries were also used to make wines and cordials, as well as jams and preserves.

How To Pick Blackberries 

Many of us have memories of going blackberry picking as children and while they are now commonly available in stores, picking the berries from hedgerows and bushes is still one of the easiest ways to get your hands on the fruit when it's at its best. 

When picking blackberries, look for the shiniest berries that are firm to the touch and have unblemished flesh. It's best to avoid low-hanging fruit as these are often favoured by animals, for both food and other reasons. 

September is the best time to pick blackberries because not only are they at their peak in terms of flavour at this time, an old wive's tale says that October berries will have been contaminated by the devil, which is best avoided. October also brings damper weather which can ruin the crop, so whether you believe in old wives' tales or trust in the seasons, we reckon September is the best time to go blackberry picking.

When picking blackberries, try not to stack too many on top of each other, as they're very fragile and can be easily bruised and squashed. Blackberries lose their flavour when exposed to moisture, so its best to try to keep them dry at home. If storing in the fridge, we recommend you let them come to room temperature before consuming them - the flavour is much better this way.

If you've picked a lot of berries and don't fancy making jam, try freezing them in a single layer on a baking tray. They can be cooked directly from frozen, which makes this method ideal for baking.

How To Use Blackberries

We love making blackberry jam, but if you're looking for something a little more inventive, why not try some of the recipes below? They're some of our absolute favourites from the site. 

Donal Skehan's blackberry and custard doughnuts.
Donal Skehan's blackberry and custard doughnuts.