Last weekend the twitter wires were buzzing with foodies claiming to have found superbly ripe blackberries in and around London. Seemed a little early to me but people were twitpic-ing them and they looked good. I was still doubtful but thought I’d take a chance and see what I could find.
We found loads and loads and loads and loads of bramble bushes and plenty of smallish under ripe blackberries. No big fat juicy ones as other claimed to have found. I was beginning to think perhaps they were all having me on and had been foraging at their local supermarket…..
I wasn’t prepared to give up – I had empty bags to fill so after a bit more searching we settled on a spot and started to pick the best we could find moving on bit by bit to take the ripest ones and leaves the others for another day. We eventually collected about 1.5lbs – not a lot but I think another week or so and there will be a much better haul. We only saw one other person collecting and the bushes didn’t look like someone else had got there first and baggged all the plumpest ones. We did see plenty of people soaking up the sun, having picnics and larking about on the boating lake but no one was interested in blackberries.
So then I needed to decide what to do with the fruits. I wasn’t sure they were sweetish but a bit small to make a dessert with and it was too warm for crumble. So I rinsed them let them dry off and popped them in the fridge whilst I spooled recipes round in my head. then at breakfast one day when I was enjoyed some of Ginger Gourmand’s Lemon Curd (bought from her UKFBA stall a couple of weeks back) it came to me:
Genius I thought – tart berries and sweet butteriness what a combination. So back to the recipe books to find a recipe – well could I find one, no I could not and I’ve got at least four books on making preserves……it was time to freeform a recipe. A bit of detailed reading and I decided I that adapting a recipe for gooseberry curd would probably work. Here’s what I did:
Goodshoeday’s Blackberry Curd – makes 4 small jars
700g tart blackberries – rinsed and picked over for bugs and leaves
Put the blackberries in a pan and add the water, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes until they form a puree. Rub through a sieve (preferably nylon) so you get as much of the juice and fruit as you can but no pips. Measure the volume of juicy pipless puree you now have. I got 350ml.
For each 200ml of puree you need 1 large egg or 2 yolks, 150g of sugar (caster) and 40g of unsalted butter (plus maybe more see later).
So I used 70g of butter, 2 medium eggs, and 260g of sugar as the nearest sensible equivalents.
Put the puree sugar and butter in a heatproof bowl and warm it over a pan of hot water, stirring until it melts/dissolves. Beat the eggs thoroughly and then add them to the blackberry mix, keep stirring over the hot water until it all thickens and coats the back of a spoon like a good cheese sauce would i.e. still a bit runny as it will thicken as it cools. Mine seemed a bit runny do I added about another 10/15g of butter (I didn’t weigh it I just added small pieces until I got the desired effect).
Then pout into hot stertilsed jars trying to avoid getting it all down the jars and on the work surface like I did (new narrower jam funnel needed for me I think). Lids on jars and leave to cool before storing in the fridge.
Remember to lick the spoon thoroughly and barter hard with anyone who tries to blag a jar because it tastes really good.
Recipe based on Gooseberry Curd by Marguerite Patten in The Basic Basics Jams, Preserves and Chutneys Handbook