Purple smiles and ‘bloody’ hands.
One two three four — how many more? — gleeful children, laden arms outstretched, offering, loaded, big bowls of bouncing blackberries. The kitchen crowded with their relentless harvest.
And so we pick and pick. And now?
Blackberry pies, of course, and cakes brimming with blackberries.
And these to capture summer’s flavor, puckery sweet, for more wintry days.
Crème de mûre (Blackberry liqueur)
Makes about 3 bottles
1.2 kg just-picked blackberries
1 bottle pinot noir
800 g sugar
1 bottle eau de vie (fruit brandy)
Gently wash the blackberries over running water.
In a bowl, preferably high and deep, coarsely crush the berries with a pestle or masher. Pour the wine over the berries, cover tightly, and and let steep for 48 hours.
Pour the berries into a large saucepan. Add the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for a good 20 to 30 minutes.
Strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve.
Measure the volume and add the eau de vie at a ratio of 1/3 eau de vie to 2/3 blackberry juice.
Using a funnel, pour the liqueur into (clean) bottles, seal tightly, and store in a cool dark place. Let the liqueur sit for at least a month before using for the flavors to develop beautifully.
Blackberry and lemon jam
1.6 kg just-picked blackberries plus 400 g
1.4 kg sugar
3 untreated lemons
Gently wash the blackberries under running water.
Using a small, sharp knife, cut a long ribbon of zest from one of the lemons.
In a large heavy saucepan, mix 1.6 kg of blackberries with the sugar, ribbon of zest and juice from one lemon. Let sit for a few hours or overnight, as convenient.
Later (or the next day), add the other two, very thinly sliced lemons. Bring the fruit/sugar mixture to a boil over medium heat and let the jam bubble away for about 20 to 30 minutes. The boiling bubbles will become less vivacious as the temperature rises to the point where the jam will set. As the boil becomes more leisurely, the jam ready to set, add the remaining 400 g of blackberries. Cook for another 10 minutes.
Sterilize the jars in boiling water for 5 minutes, transfer the hot jam into the jars, seal tightly, and store for a few weeks at least before opening!