Last weekend we spent an afternoon foraging wild blackberries. The English countryside is so bountiful this time of the year that it seems wasteful not to go out there and ‘help yourself’ to its generous offerings.
Opting for an ethical lifestyle involves making decisions daily that force you to consult with your values on a variety of issues. Of course on this blog I focus mainly on the issue of Fair Trade, but alternative consumerism extends much further and involves making a stand on issues related to environmental sustainability, preservation of the soil, wildlife and countryside conservation, animal welfare and many more.
Some of these issues feel so huge that it’s easy for us to think that we can’t really do anything about them and that ‘others’ surely must be dealing with them. In reality being sensitive and informed about them and making small lifestyle changes is more effective and empowering than any policy making that may or may not be taking place outside our influence. Decisions such as consuming less, recycling, buying organic and Fair Trade, opting for measures that limit your impact on the environment and many more, are things that ALL of us can make everyday and that impact our world.
Foraging is a fun way to consume less and replace a trip to the supermarket for a walk in the countryside – a free family day out that cultivates your appreciation for the wonders of nature. Whether its for flowers, herbs, mushrooms, berries or whatever else grows near you… do your research (be safe!) and go out there and help yourself!, and when you come home ladened with goodies, let your imagination guide your cooking and preserving!
Here are 3 recipes I developed this week for my wild blackberries:
Blackberry Shortbread Cookies (A cheat’s Jammie Dodger!) – a simple shortbread recipe with a deliciously gooey blackberry centre
Summer Berry Tart (with Crème Patisserie) – which is probably my all-time favourite summer dessert, and
Spiced Blackberry Jam – a spicy and fragrant jam made in the summer with the autumn and winter in mind
I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!
- 120 gr unsalted butter
- 80 gr fairtrade caster sugar
- 1 free range egg yolk (lightly beaten)
- 50 gr blackberries
- A pinch of salt
- Pre-heat your oven to 190 C
- Line your baking trays
- Cream the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until pale, then add the yolk and mix again
- Sift the flour into the mixture bit by bit, mixing until you can handle the dough
- It will be quite soft and sticky, so simply use your hands to roll small balls and press them down to rough circles
- Place a blackberry in the middle
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, leave to cool in a wire wrack and enjoy!
- 100 gr plain flour
- 75 gr of unsalted butter (cold and diced)
- 20 gr of fairtrade icing sugar
- 1 large free range egg yolk
- Crème Patisserie
- 175 ml of full fat milk
- 2 large free range egg yolks
- 25 gr Fairtrade caster sugar
- 8 gr plain flour
- 8 gr corn flour
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Cream the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon and add the yolk
- Sift the flour bit by bit until you can handle the dough
- Roll to a thickness of about 5 mm
- Leave in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes
- Crème Patisserie
- Heat the milk until it is almost starting to boil, then set aside for a few minutes
- On another pan whisk the egg, sugar until pale and thick, then add the flours gradually, whisk well. Then add the warmed milk but by bit, whisking all the time
- Return to the heat and heat for 2-3 minutes, whisking all the time until it thickens
- Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract whisking once more.
- Set aside until you are ready to assemble
- Heat your oven to 190C
- Cut your pastry and fill your tart cases, act quickly so the dough remains cool
- Bake for 15 minutes and then leave to cool for a bit
- Prepare your berries
- When the pastry has cooled, fill with the crème patisserie and decorate with your berries. Enjoy!
- 700 gr of blackberries
- 400 gr of Fairtrade caster sugar
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 sachet of pectin
- 150 ml of unsweetened apple juice
- 100 ml water
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tbsp. mixed spices
- Pre-heat your oven to 170C
- Put a plate in the freezer
- Place the blackberries, water and juice in a pan and boil for about 10 minutes
- Remove any foamy scum that forms on the top
- Add the sugar, spices and pectin
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sugar dissolves
- Turn up the heat and boil for 10 more minutes
- Remove from the heat and place a spoonful on the plate that was placed in the freezer, if after a few second a thin skin forms the jam is ready, otherwise return to the heat for a few more minutes
- Add the butter and mix
- Place your jars in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes to sterilise
- Carefully fill the jars, close and leave to cool at room temperature