Scandinavian Blackberries

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Scandinavian Blackberries
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Blackberries are even more plentiful than raspberries, being an invasive weed throughout the north, where they thrive under all conditions. Scandinavian blackberries have a nasty habit of spreading over abandoned homes, and every clearing in the woods, at an amazing pace.

Their long, thorny stems drive their ends into the ground, where they take root and spread even further. You can of course buy small pounds of cultivated blackberries, but we are much better off collecting them in the wild; if you are prepared for the venture, in full indestructible picking gear, complete with boots and tough gloves, you can pick as many as you want.

Scandinavian Blackberries
Blackberries may be a weed but are a marvel to eat when absolutely ripe. . Photo: NDLA

Appearance and taste

Blackberries may be a weed but are a marvel to eat when absolutely ripe. Shop-bought blackberries are generally of the thornless and much less tasty kind, and are often underripe, while wild berries are huge and soft. To be perfect they must be so ripe that they actually drop into your hand when you merely give them a good stare. You can grow your own, but they are a dangerous thing to invite into your garden – a fact that tempts gardeners to plant the thornless varieties, with less spreading habit, and much less taste.

Culinary uses

Blackberries freeze well, so abundant picking can be savored over a period of time. They also make perfect jam.

Apples and blackberries have a definite affinity for each other, which is fortunate as the two fruits are in season at the same time. You can add them to a simple apple compote just scattered over the top. And vanilla-spiced baked apples taste wonderful with some fresh blackberries and cream.

Scandinavian BlackberriesBlackberry jam

950 g (2 pounds) wild blackberries
850 g (1.8 pounds) granulated sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp butter or non-dairy spread (optional)

Put the blackberries in a pot and add the sugar. Stir gently, cover the pot and leave the berries to macerate overnight or for up to 12 hours. The sugar will draw out the juice and soften the berries and it will dissolve quicker when you make the jam.

Bring the fruit slowly to a rolling boil. Use a slotted spoon to skim the surface of any frothy scum.

Continue to cook until the rolling boil reduces down, the air bubbles subside and the surface of the jam looks glossy.

Test your jam using the Thermapen – the setting point is 104.5°C-105°C (220-221°F).

Take the jam off the heat and allow it to sit for 10 minutes so that the fruit distributes evenly.

Fill sterilised warm jars to the top with the jam while it is still over 85°C (185°F) seal and cool or simply pour the jam into an airtight container. Store the jam in the fridge and use within three weeks.

Notes

Use slightly under-ripe fruit which are naturally higher in pectin. Make sure you thoroughly rinse your blackberries to get rid of dirt.

To get rid of the frothy scum (trapped air) either skim the jam with a slotted spoon or stir in a little butter.

Fill warm jars to the top with jam while it is still over 85°C (185°F).

Store-bought blackberries are larger and sweeter than the foraged ones. They are also lower in pectin so you will need to add some lemon juice to aid the setting.

Use a potato masher to break up the farmed berries slightly before cooking the jam otherwise the jam will be very chunky!

Other Scandinavian berries you might like to read more about:

Scandinavians and Strawberries
Scandinavian Rovanberry

Scandinavian Blackberries, written by Tor Kjolberg

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