Experts tell us that this year has produced a bumper crop of brambles so, if you haven’t any in your garden, it’s time to take to the woods and hedgerows in search of nature’s free food. The beauty of brambles is that you can get two recipes from one picking â€” first there’s bramble jelly for the store cupboard and second, a delicious bramble fool for desert. How’s that for value!
A member of the rose family (Rosacea) we know them as brambles in Scotland, but in England and elsewhere, they are better known as blackberries. As with other Rubus species, blackberries have seeds and pectin giving it a high quantity of dietary fibre. Blackberries are a particularly good source of vitamin A, potassium and calcium.
When collecting brambles and other wild foods, take care not to pick them from the roadside where they will have accumulated pollution from the traffic. Once you have collected a good quantity of brambles, just give them a quick wash and put them in a heavy bottomed jelly pan.
About 1.5 kg of brambles will need 500 ml of water, 2 large cooking apples and the juice of a lemon. Bring to the boil, then simmer over a low heat for 20-25 minutes or until the fruit is completely soft.
Strain through a jelly bag or muslin cloth, leaving them to drip overnight. Measure the juice. For every 600ml of juice, add 450g sugar. Return them to the jelly pan and and heat gently until all the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until setting point is reached. Skim and pour into clean jars.
But you’re not finished yet! This double value fruit has more to offer, in the shape of a delicious desert â€“ bramble fool. The softened fruit should now be pushed through a seive and the resulting puree mixed with whipped cream. If you’re feeling guilty at how simple it is, pretty it up with a sprig of mint or lemon balm.