A seasonal guide to fermentation
Preserve This is a new segment of The Mancunion Food and Drink section. We will explore the art and science of preservation, pickling, and fermentation, and how to do so safely and seasonally.
Blackberries – A Seasonal Glut
The hedgerows previously heaving with the weight of blackberries, are now approaching the end of their season. It’s the last chance to make something of this autumnal glut.
There is something comforting in preserving food at the end of summer, something primordial in wanting to prepare for the winter ahead. To preserve blackberries is to face up to autumn. But to do something practical about this fact, to reserve some of this sweetness, keep something tart and bright for future use to brighten a dull plate or a dark January day.
Foraging for your own doesn’t need much instruction. Head for anywhere with a hedgerow. The ones that line the Fallowfield loop, or stretch along the Mersey from Fletcher Moss, the borders of parks, beyond Chorlton green. Try to keep a distance from main roads or other sources of pollution such as train tracks, but don’t be too strict, we breathe that same polluted air every day.
If you are looking to reduce food miles, foraging for yourself is a watertight way to do so. The volume of fruit needed to make a decent batch of jam can be intimidating at its expense, so if you are wanting to dip your toe into preserving without committing financially, picking your own fruit for free is the best way to test the waters.
What to make:
- Jam. Add diced apple alongside regular granulated sugar for more of the pectin that will allow it set, or if you are a porridge eater, leave the apple and heat it to only a simmer, to have as a compote for the mornings.
- Cordial. Cook the berries on the hob until they collapse. Sieve to strain and weigh the juice. Stir through with half of the weight of sugar. Mix with sparkling or tonic water, and a spritz of orange peel for a non alcohlic drink that is not overly sweet.
- Steep the berries within a bottle of gin, even the cheapest will do, for a sharp coloured gin that you can be sure has not been coloured artificially.
- Chutney. Don’t leave blackberries to the realm of the sweet. Their sharpness bites against mild cheeses, ricotta on toast, or can stand up to the hardiness of cheddar in a sandwich.