Their rich, glossy appearance belies the delicacy of these bramble fruits, which are also packed with vitamin C and dripping with juice. Eat them raw now, while they are in season, or make jam and cook them to freeze for later.
Blackberry factors to take into consideration while buying are that the fruit should be dark and plump, and not mouldy or squishy. Check the berries at the bottom of a punnet as they can be easily crushed and you want to go for intact fruit where possible. If you have to wash them, do so very carefully as blackberries are easily squashed. Just rinse gently and carefully drain.
If you need to store the berries, try to lay them on a flat surface rather than leaving them in the punnet, and keep them in the fridge for no more than a couple of days. Remove them an hour or so before you eat them as they are most flavoursome at room temperature.
These berries lend themselves well to cooking, either stewed with a little sugar and crème de mure, pureed for sauce or baked in pies and crumbles with other fruit.
However you could also consider more sophisticated blackberry factors, such as this blackberry Italian zabaglione.
- 400g blackberries
- 140g golden caster sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 vanilla pod
- 3 tablespoons marsala or sweet wine
Gently crush the berries and stir in 25g of the sugar. Divide half of the mixture between six serving glasses, reserving the rest for later.
Make a bain marie by placing a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Add the egg yolks and scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the bowl with the rest of the sugar. Beat the mixture until light and airy with an electric whisk, then add the Marsala wine and keep whisking for another 10-12 minutes, until the mixture is foamy and thick and the whisk leaves a trail. Add a layer of the mousse to the serving glasses, then another layer of fruit, topped by a final layer of mousse.
You can also try a blackberry milkshake – useful when you’re trying to convince kids to eat fruit! You’ll need 400g berries – ideally fresh but frozen would work too – 1 small banana, three scoops of vanilla ice cream and 300ml whole milk. Add the lot to a blender and whizz for a few minutes until smooth and thick. Serve immediately.