Some memories are etched on your mind for ever and for me blackberry picking is one of them. Who can resist the appeal of a few bowls of delicious free food gathered on a sunny afternoon and carried home to turn into rows of jewel coloured jars for the larder? Apparently blackberry picking is a dying art, even in these cash strapped times. It may be that sites are harder to find now that housing developments are more prolific but every negative has a positive and my neighbour’s lack of green fingers or keeness on wildlife gardening resulted in a prolific growth of blackberries at the bottom of the garden when we returned from holidaying on the South Downs.
I would like to be able to say that my three children hopped and skipped out with a range of vintage china bowls to gather the harvest but the boys were busy highlighting their lines for Romeo and Juliet (playing sword wielding Montagues!) and Sarah was finding a place for the willow wand she wove at the Weald and Downland Museum so I was left alone to grapple with the thorns on this occasion.
An hour later and I had a batch of blackberry and apple jelly straining through a muslin bag and a blackberry fool in the fridge. I may have felt like a domestic goddess but I looked like I’d been engaged in some method acting with my boys. Still there’s no pleasure without pain and blackberry fool does taste particularly delicious.
Nigel Slater’s recipe for Blackberry Fool is the best in my opinion…but you may know differently. Bruise the fruit with a fork. Stir in 2oz caster sugar for every 1lb of fruit and then fold gently into 1/4 pint softly whipped double cream (I think 1/4 pint is a bit mean so use more). Scatter over halved toasted hazelnuts if you like.