Blackberries

The juicy Blackberry

Blackberries can grow in great profusion.

Blackberries can grow in great profusion.

I live on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia and the place is loaded with the Himalayan Blackberry. It is an introduced species to North America. The guy who in introduced it, thought it came from the Himalayas. In actual fact, it originated from somewhere in Europe. “Himalayan” is a misnomer.

A lot of people don't much care for it. It appears out of nowhere and grows at an incredible rate. The new shoots can reach a 12m length in one year. It forms thick bramble thickets, that can be obnoxious and very difficult to get rid of and are full of very sharp thorns.

They grow in open fields, under hydro lines, along country roads and even in your garden, if you let them.
The berries, these thickets produce, are glorious plus their volume in a good year is mind boggling.

They come ripe about the middle of August and continue into September. Pick them, when the sun is shining. A short rain won't hurt them much but 2 to 3 days of wet weather will ruin the crop. Mold, which can be toxic, will take over very quickly in wet conditions.

When picking them, make sure, they are fully black and come easily off the stem. Blackberries are red and very sour, when green.

Blackberries are red when they are green.

Blackberries are red when they are green.

Be careful, the prickles are sharp and strong and will tear through denim, so wear your old jeans.

The summer of 2014 produced a bumper crop of blackberries on the Sunshine Coast. We picked a year's supply in about an hour and a half per day, for a week. We just poured them into zip-lock bags and froze them for later processing.

Blackberries are great eaten raw in breakfast serial or smoothies.

For jam:

Sterilizing Mason Jars for Blackberry Syrup or Jam

Sterilizing Mason Jars for Blackberry Syrup or Jam

Bring a half an inch of water in a pot, with a quart of berries, to a boil, starting at medium heat so you won't burn them. Add half a 1.75 oz pack of pectin, stir in 5 cups of sugar and boil for 1 minute stirring continuously. Sterilize a quart mason jar by pouring boiling water into it. Put a table spoon into the jar to deflect the heat and keep the jar from cracking. Fill the juice into the sterilized mason jar and seal with a sterilized lid.

To make syrup:

Removing seeds from blackberries

Removing seeds from blackberries

Boil a quart of berries as above. With a ladle rub the juice through a wire sieve to remove the seeds.

You can do the same procedure for jam, if you don't like seeds in it.

Put back into the pot and stir in 2 cups of sugar – more or less, to taste. Bring it back to a rolling boil for a minute. Store in mason jars as above. Use as topping on pancakes, ice cream, smoothies etc.

Blackberry wine:

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs of blackberries.
  • 4 liters of water
  • 2.5 lbs of sugar.
  • ½ tsp of pectin enzyme.
  • port wine yeast and yeast nutrients.

Directions:

  • Put the washed berries into a polyethylene bucket and crush with a potato masher.
  • Bring 3 liters of water to a boil and pour over the berries.
  • Stir well and let it cool to room temperature.
  • Add pectin enzyme. Cover with a cloth and let it stand for 24 hrs.
  • Heat a liter of water, totally dissolve the sugar in it, let it cool and add to the batch.
  • Stir the yeast and yeast nutrient into a cup of lukewarm water and add to the juice.
  • Put the lid on the bucket and leave for 4 days, stirring it daily.
  • Strain the mixture through muslin or a double layer of cheese cloth.
  • Fill it into a dark, sterilized demijohn to the shoulder and seal it with a fermentation lock.
  • Save the excess liquid in a bottle. Seal with moist cotton batten as an airlock.
  • After about a week in a cool dark place, when the fermentation has slowed, you can top up the demijohn to the base of the neck and replace the fermentation lock.
  • Leave it for 3 months to clear and then rack the wine. Rack it again two months later and bottle it in dark, sterilized bottles.


This wine will improve with age and should be left for 6 months to a year, but if that is too much, you can drink it after about 1 week in the bottle. Cheers!

Fermentation of all kinds of different foods is an intensely interesting subject - from wine to sourdough to cheese. Get a book on it - here.

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