Countryside walks are so rewarding in the pleasant autumn sun. Leaves are starting to turn red, orange and yellow and bushes are full of all sorts of berries. It is easy to find some blackberries alongside countryside lanes and roads. Blackberry hedges are hardy and invasive plants. They easily take over nice sunny spots when they are not regulated and they often grow in large quantities. If looking for blackberries try areas like hillsides, countryside lanes, wood borders and hedgerows.
The end of summer throughout September is the best time to pick blackberries. It's when this fruit is in peak in most of the UK. We always collect only dark coloured berries that pulls off easily from the branch. Those are the sweetest. Any under ripe, red coloured fruit will taste very sour/tart and will put the kids off from eating them.
We actually don’t eat many blackberries directly from the hedge. We prefer to take them home, wash them and prepare them with sugar and yoghurt. It’s a simple recipe kids can make by themselves and have it as a light dessert, easy afternoon snack or a tasty breakfast.
The ripe berries are soft and juicy and can stain fingers and clothes easily. Moreover, blackberry plants are thorny dense bushes growing in an untidy, tangled manner. It's easy for kids to get scratched by trying to reach the best looking berries. Therefore, I prefer when my children wear clothes with long trousers and sleeves that can get dirty.
learn how to recognise a blackberry bush
Make sure your children (especially young ones) know how the blackberry hedge look like and don't mistake blackberry for any other dark coloured berries. Point out the way how the plan grows, the shape of its leaves and colour of the berries. Spot the different stages each berry goes through before it becomes juicy, dark purple/black fruit. Red coloured berry might look inviting but its taste will disappoint you. It's easy to find all the berry stages (from green and red to dark purple) on the same bush as it produces fruit continuously.
talk about interesting facts
Together try to think about what kind of animals enjoy eating blackberries.
Hint: These juicy berries are popular with all sorts of birds and insects as well as animals like squirrels, mice, hedgehogs, foxes and even deer.
Animals help to spread the plant seeds far from the parent plant. They can be carried on the feet of birds or animal fur. Another way how the seeds are dispersed is in animal droppings.
You can discuss with children different ways how our ancestors used to preserve fruit to be able to enjoy it past their season and benefit from its vitamins.
Hint: You kids might be surprised that people have to learn to preserve food without a fridge/freezer.
The easiest way was to sun dry the berries.
Recipes for the first jam date back to ancient Greece. Apparently sailors and pirates alike use to take jam on their sailing adventures as fresh fruit didn’t lasted long and jam provided the sailors with important vitamin C.
But sugar was an expensive commodity so medieval people often sealed the fruit in honey that was more affordable.
The method when the fruit is preserved by boiling in airtight jar was discovered during the Napoleonic wars (early 19th century) when it was necessary to feed a large number of soldiers and provide them with important vitamins to keep them strong.
While you are foraging for blackberries don’t forget to enjoy the outdoors. Let your kids run around and release some steam. Give them all the freedom so they can appreciate the countryside and fresh air. It will give you a little bit of time to unwind too.