Blackberries are the jewel in the crown for foragers - it’s time to go brambling

Richard and Katja Bainbridge love foraging for blackberries. Picture: Katja Bainbridge

Richard and Katja Bainbridge love foraging for blackberries. Picture: Katja Bainbridge - Credit: Archant

The humble blackberry for me represents the Norfolk and Suffolk countryside. The country lanes are thick with brambles and thicket that always just look like thorny bushes of hell when you walk past. You fall off your bike into them. Lose your ball in them.

Richard and Katja Bainbridge love foraging for blackberries. Picture: Katja Bainbridge

Richard and Katja Bainbridge love foraging for blackberries. Picture: Katja Bainbridge - Credit: Archant

They're mystical, like something out of the bog in the Neverending Story or Labyrinth. A couple of weeks ago you had these five petal white flowers and now going into mid-August you start getting these beautiful plump blackberries.

Even though I've spoken about foraging and picking this and that before, everyone can pick a blackberry and enjoy it and not worry about poisoning their family!

When the season starts you see people with buckets on the side of the road, picking these beautiful berries.

The ones on the side of the road I think are fair game. I'm not sure what the law is, but I don't reckon the farmers mind too much.


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You can eat them walking along. Or stockpile them for makng jam.

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Before, my grandmother would pick blackberries and make them into jam, and that's all you could do.

Now we make our own fruit vinegars from blackberries, sugar and water. You can infuse gin and vodka. They're so versatile. Put them in salads and savoury dishes.

The game season starts on August 12 around the same time as blackberries start popping up and it's perfect harmony serving them with grouse, duck and partridges.

You can also lightly pickle them. At Benedicts we preserve the summer taste as much as we can going into winter. They go brilliantly with goose at Christmas time.

If you start making blackberry gin in August it's ready for those Royales at Christmas which is amazing.

Also you can pick off some of the leaves and they have a great flavour if you infuse them into oil. We sometimes make blackberry leaf ice cream. You get the essence of the blackberry, with a bit of a grassy note.

We even smoke with the stalks. I cut the bushes down, dry them out and smoke salmon with them- you get a real hint of the berries.

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