Blackberries – brambles

Blackberries - brambles

This is your last chance to pick your blackberries. Michaelmas (29th September) is, by legend, the day the Devil spits on them, making them inedible. Another version of the story is that a bramble patch broke his fall from heaven. There is a lot of tannin in brambles and perhaps after the 29th, at the end of their season when they start to wither, they are too bitter. They are pretty much over, here in the south-east, but may have a week or two left further north.

Everyone loves blackberry picking – there is something very satisfying about searching through the tangle of thorns for the fattest, glossiest fruit.It’s often the first wild food children come across, found both in country and town. A good picking session with plastic bags at the ready was a feature of my childhood, autumn half-term holidays in Scotland.(The Scots refer to the fruit and plant interchangeably as “brambles”.) There are plenty of brambles in our local park, and there was a big patch under the railway bridge until they were cleared away in a fit of tidiness.I’d give any fruit picked next to a road a good wash though.

What can you make with the fruit you have picked, apart from the usual jam and apple and blackberry crumble?My parents used to make a very good bramble wine,like Merlot, but we’ve lost the recipe (- anyone out there got a recipe?).They freeze very well so you can store them for later.This year I experimented with a blackberry sorbet and recommend it highly – it really captures that rich, aromatic, winey flavour.Quite a grown up ice, although the kids lapped it up too.Here is the recipe, with acknowledgements to Caroline Liddell and Robin Weir’s “Ices” (pub.Grub Street).

  • Blackberry Sorbet
  • 450g blackberries
  • 150 ml water
  • 150 g sugar
  • Juice of 2½ lemons

A splash of something like crème de mûre (or I used damson gin) wouldn’t go amiss (a splash is 2 tablespoons)

bramble-old-flower-remainsPick over the blackberries for bits of leaf, insects and other detritus, and give them a wash if you’re dubious about car fumes, dogs, etc and dry them.Put them in a non-reactive pan with the sugar and water and bring to the boil, simmering for 2-3 minutes until the fruit has started to release its juice.Allow to cool and then liquidise in a blender or food processor (or just push through a sieve).Strain to remove the seeds and debris.Allow to cool then add the alcohol and the lemon juice.Cover and chill.When cold, either pour into your ice cream machine or pour into a shallow plastic container and put in the freezer.Take it out every hour and break up the ice crystals formed around the edge with a fork until it’s the consistency of a Slush Puppy – about 4 stirrings – and then put it back in the freezer to firm up.Take it out about 20 mins before you want to eat.



Wonderful, all those recipes. Unfortunately they require much more discipline than I can muster. This year two little tubs full made it home, and I had some with the breakfast muesli for a week or two. The rest … well, doesn’t make it into a tub. Straight into my mouth. Local, fresh, seasonal all in one delicious little package …


24 September, 2020

[…] And in any case, the Devil started spitting (or worse) on blackberries yesterday – as legend has it.  Little blackberry and apple pie this year.  I look with some envy across several back gardens […]

Round up - Mark Avery

30 September, 2012

[…] BBC Food: Apple tart with blackberry sorbet Woodlands.co.uk: Blackberry sorbet Leiths Techniques Bible: Susan Spaull & Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); […]

Just made this sorbet (something of a glut of blackberries in Norfolk!) and it is absolutely delicious. Thank you!


19 September, 2010

[…] was banished from heaven – 29th September (though at one time it was the 10th October); see Catherine‘s blog.  This idea may be explained / rationalised as the weather becomes wetter and colder […]

I made this sorbet and served it to guests between the starter and main course as a palate cleanser. We did feel posh! The meal was a ‘Taste of Scotland’ themed evening and the sorbet was a perfect touch of class and a nice wee surprise.

lynn w

11 September, 2010

It is so wonderful to find tales and memories of blackberry picking from all over the world. These amazing free fruits are so good for you as well and are rated at the very top for antioxidant powers as well as contain high levels of folic acid.


5 October, 2009

A good combination for the blackberry sorbet is a passion fruit sorbet. It makes a dramatic color combo and a great tasting sorbet!


5 July, 2009

[…] Because Saturday the 29th of September  was Michaelmas;  the start of autumn, official and, so folklore has it, the day the devil pisses on blackberries or spits on them, curses them or puts his cloven hoof on them (depending which part of the country you are from) rendering them inedible! […]

Blackberries is something I miss from living in London!

Here we can buy them frozen though. It’s great for smoothies and simple sorbets – we keep a box of various frozen fruits in the freezer, bits of banana, apple, pineapples, berries etc. and just put a selection in a blender with some yogurt or juice to eat. It makes a nice ice cream texture and is delicious and healthy – 100% fruits, no sugar or fat required.


29 September, 2007

My mam would cook the brambles, push them through a seive and add the puree to our porridge before we set off for school. One of my happiest memories :-)


28 September, 2007

Brambles make great wine!


25 September, 2007

According to Eat well, be well: (http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthydiet/seasonsandcelebrations/autumn/hedgerowharvest/ ),
“One cup of blackberries is equivalent to a portion for the recommended minimum of five-a-day of a variety of fruit and vegetables we should all be having”


20 September, 2007

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