Local Blackberries = Local cheese
There’s a pub called The Prince Albert near Kings Cross. It aims to source its food from within the M25. According to its menu over 80% of the food used in their kitchen is grown within the area covered by the London Underground map.
I’ve never been, but the menu sounds lovely. Pigeon and pork from Amersham. Plaice from Mersea. Mill Hill salad.
I’m not sure what food you could find in Merton though. There’s some elderflowers nearby but not many. You can buy Wimbledon honey at the Wimbledon Common windmill or at the National Trust shop at Morden Hall Park (my local park is owned by the National Trust. This is well cool!)
Mind you there’s the blackberries. Loads of them. Even better, there’s loads of hedges just across the road from us, which are especially good as few people seem to realise they’re there. Which means Catherine and myself swoop on them.
So far this year we’ve harvested around 3kg of the things. At least half are in the freezer – they freeze really well. I weigh out 150g worth and put them in individual bags.
Last night saw a delicious apple and blackberry crumble made and devoured whilst some have gone on Bircher Muesili which Catherine really likes.
But what I’m really looking forward to is the Blackberry and Apple Fruit Cheese which I made for the first time on Sunday.
I’ve made Blackberry Jam before, but this stuff takes it to a new level. Basically you cook up 200g cooking apple and 450g blackberries in 200ml water until soft and then put it through a sieve. Discard the pulp and take the liquid. Put an equal volume of sugar in and simmer and stir for about 50 minutes when it should be very thick.
Pop in a preserving jar and when cooled, sealed. Don’t seal when hot as the jar might explode as I found out recently whilst making some raspberry jam! It’ll probably fill a 350g preserving jar although I did two 200g jars. Obviously to make more, increase the amounts of fruit and water!
The resulting “cheese” tasted fantastic. Really powerful and fruity and not too sweet. It seemed to bring out the best in the fruit – far more so than the blackberry jam I’ve made in the past. Apparently it will last for a year and I’m really looking forward to trying it on some scones.
Best still, it’s got really low food miles (I even bought British sugar) and probably cost about £1 to make thanks to the blackberry freebie.
Blackberry bushes aren’t even that hard to find – they seem to grow everywhere. There are so many bushes near where I live and it’s not that special an area. For a few minutes foraging you can get some delicious food.
Even better, there’s still loads of blackberries out there that haven’t yet ripened. Nature’s bounty is out there and I’ll be taking advantage of it.
And if you’d like some fruit cheese well I may be persuaded to save you some.