This time of year always takes me back to my childhood - of whole afternoons spent picking copious amounts of brambles as we knew them - probably due to having a Scottish Mum! Many people know them as blackberries too. It always seemed like my parents had a competition to see who could pick the most which was invariably my Mum who towards the end of the afternoon had to tolerate the endless questions of when we would be going home! Once we got home the cooking started and the whole house had that wonderful aroma of freshly cooking brambles which were added to the apples already picked in our garden. It was only a number of years ago when I was still living in Bristol that I first cooked my own and the smell took me right back.... it was a strange experience but one full of happy memories too.
Just incase anyone reading this has not enjoyed this delicious mixture - peel and chop a few apples - cook them a bit first in a small amount of water and sugar and add as many blackberries as you wish and even elderberries if you're lucky enough to have them, plus additional water as required and more sugar to suit your taste - don't add too much liquid at the beginning as the brambles themselves will create quite a bit of juice on their own. Once cooked this can provide a wonderful base for a crumble or even put a sponge mixture on the top - great with custard!
Brambles and apples are as good as a marriage made in heaven and they can even be found growing together naturally - just as they were intended!
Picking brambles now is a very pleasurable way of using up an afternoon or even a snatched half hour whilst out with the dog - infact she probably eats as many as I pick... anyone ever see a dog picking brambles!? Its' also a great opportunity to watch the local wildlife as well - I was lucky enough to spot this beautiful Speckled Wood butterfly.