Blackberry Day has now been accepted as the 12th September. This for the logical reason that this is statistically the date when blackberries reach their peak in the English Midlands.
Blackberry Day - 12th September
Blackberry Season 2012Not a vintage year. Insufficient sunshine, too much rain.
Blackberry Season 2011This year's crop seems late. We just haven't had the sunshine this summer to produce a bumper crop. Furthermore every time I think about going out blackberrying, it rains! One piece of good news; a neighbour and her two young daughters went out picking and kindly gave us enough blackberries for my wife to make a tasty blackberry tart.
Blackberry Day 2010 (UK)I don't know if it was just me, but I missed out on the 2010 blackberry season. It always seemed to rain just as I was about to pick. Blackberries will recover from a shower, and the later fruiting berries in the bunch will ripen when the sun returns. However, I always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Blackberry Day 2009 (UK)In the Midlands of England, where I live, it was a pretty average blackberry season in terms of rainfall and sunshine. However, there was a hiccup in early September when we caught the tail of Hurricane Danny, but after a week or two of better weather the blackberries miraculously appeared in time for Blackberry Day 12th September.
- In 2009 the 14th of September was good, although picking 3 days either side was also excellent.
- In 2008 the 12th of September was the best day.
- In 2007 the best days were earlier around the 28th of August.
- In 2007 blackberries peaked on 10th of September.
Blackberry Day 2008 (UK)Unlike other seasonal event such as Halloween, or Groundhog Day, Blackberry Day varies from year to year. It is simply the day when blackberries are at their best for that particular year. In the summer of 2008 there was less sunshine and more rain than average, thus 'Blackberry Day' was less productive than usual. To tell the truth, by the end of August 2008 I thought that blackberry season may be literally a wash-out, however mother nature has seen fit to nourish the blackberries and by mid-September they will be big, black and succulent. The persistent rain means that some bushes have watery fruit, but if the fruits have a glossy finish then there is hope that they will taste sweet and intensely blackberry.
Picking BlackberriesChoose a container to match your expectations. A two litre ice cream box is a good starting point. If you are going to drive around looking for blackberries, then you need a container with a lid, otherwise Murphy's law will kick in, and as you round the last corner all the blackberries will spill into the car's foot-well. One of the surprises of picking blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) is how much the taste varies from one bush to the next. In general, avoid even black blackberries if they look shrivelled. Seek out heads where the individual seeds look full to bursting. Any fruit that says to you 'I am a seed' is going taste tough fibrous and generally - seedy. Don't be tempted to pick blackberries with any green bits, you will only discard such fruit later, so don't pick them in the first place. Favour a clean pick, with no stalks or other inedible bits. While the end product is worthwhile, and being in the countryside has its attractions, nevertheless, picking can be boring so set yourself targets. For example, I say to myself, 'I am going to pick 100 berries before I taste one'. Better still, 'I am going to pick 500 berries, that will be enough for a blackberry tart. 1, 2, 3,.....'
Avoid Commercial or Cultivated BlackberriesCultivated blackberries are bigger and shiner, but when it comes to flavour they are 'weak tea'. Take the trouble to pick your own, the wild hedge-row blackberry are the real deal; cultivate blackberries always flatter only to disappoint. So if you see bush with huge blackberries and no thorns, this is fools gold, they will taste only of water.
O, blackberry tart, with berries as big as your thumb, purple and black, and thick with juice, and a crust to endear them that will go to cream in your mouth, and both passing down with such a taste that will make you close your eyes and wish you might live forever in the wideness of that rich moment. From 'How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn'
Recipe for Blackberry Pie:Ingredients For the short-crust pastry:
- 6 oz (175 g) plain flour pinch salt
- 1½ oz (40 g) lard
- 1½ oz (40 g) butter
- Naturally, you will need a pie dish. A capacity of about 1½ pint (850 ml) should be suitable.
- 3 medium cooking apples, about 3/4 lb (350 g)
- 10 oz (250 g) of cleaned blackberries
- 2 oz (50 g) sugar
- Glaze the pie with milk and icing (or caster) sugar