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Thursday, 13 September 2012

Blackberry Picking on the Heath

Last Sunday, a friend and I were due to set off to pick some lovely Sloes.  The plan had been to pick as many as possible, and then add them to gin to make glorious Sloe Gin, a perfect tipple for the festive season.  Just before we were due to meet, I happened to stumble across a post about someone enquiring as to why their Sloe Gin had turned out bitter and terrible.  Apparently picking Sloes before October, was a big no, no.  September Sloe's are supposedly notorious for being under-ripe and fit for nothing.  It would have made the lovely gin undrinkable!

So here we both were, all armed to forage; with nothing to forage for.  With a bit of an epiphany (and a desire not to waste the glorious Sunday sunshine) I suggested blackberry picking!

Fairly close to us both, is a large heathland, which I suspected would be full of Blackberries; I was right.

Canford Heath is notorious for bush fires, but this year it seems to have escaped unscathed from both natural and bored teen disaster.

Dreading the brambles, we came prepared.  Although Helen did have to do a rather trendy socks pulled up for protection move, which I can see really catching on.  In hindsight, plastic bags were not such a good idea.  We both seemed to spend a great amount of time trying to carefully pull thorns out of the bags, whilst praying they didn't tear.

Helen seemed to have a keener eye for spotting whoppers then me, as you can see from this beauty!

There were some very large, scary looking (spider?!?) web patches in places.  I will admit that I didn't get too close, as I was worried I would spot what had made it.

I am fairly sure that these were Rose Hips.  I was tempted to gather some up, as apparently Rose Hip tea is very beneficial for fertility.

Hidden amongst all the over-grown hedgerows, there were some beautiful flowers.  These lovely pink blooms were found peeking out between two bramble bushes.

I have to admit that I didn't quite realise blackberry picking would be quite so messy.  I can handle the dyed fingers, but the stickiness drove me crazy!

Once home, my berries were cleansed in a briny solution and then popped into the freezer.  Sadly I have no where near enough for my culinary plans, so will be going back with Helen again in a few weeks time.

The plan is to make up batches of a festive cinnamon, apple and blackberry jam and some lovely blackberry vodka.  I think that these sweet little gifts will make welcome additions to my festive foodie hampers!

The Sloe Gin has not been forgotten.  The aim is to go picking towards the end of October, fingers crossed we will have had a frost by then!

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