Hedgerow Heaven

Blackberry Curd

At this time of year hedgerows and trees begin to offer up an abundance of forageable delights. From rosehips to elderberries there is a large variety of fruits to create jams, jellies and wines with. One of the most versatile of these hedgerow treats has to be the blackberry. These plump and juicy berries are packed full of vitamin C and K and are a brilliant source of manganese which helps to promote healthy bone structure.

Also known as brambles, blackberries have been used in culinary and medicinal terms since Roman times and as a result have become surrounded by folklore and fable. In one myth it states that no fruit should be picked on or after the 11th October or Devil’s blackberry Day. This old English tale tells the story of Lucifer who was banished from heaven on 11th October. When he fell to earth it is said that he landed in a bramble bush, cursing the fruit and scorching them with his fiery breath for its sharp thorns. As his revenge each year on this date the legend suggests he spits on the fruit; spoiling them, however in reality by this date blackberries are usually past their best or have succumbed to insects.

With this in mind we best get our skates on and gather the last of the harvest to make something delicious. Blackberries are beautiful on their own but in my opinion they are best enjoyed coupled with apples. Everyone knows how delicious they are in a crumble however a few years ago I happened upon a fantastic recipe for blackberry curd in Sara Paston William’s book of Jams, Preserves and Edible Gifts. This week in the tea room we put a generous layer of our batch of blackberry curd into a vanilla swiss roll alongside freshly whipped double cream. I had planned on capturing a picture of the swiss roll for my blog however it proved so popular among the customers it was gone by the time I’d reached for my camera………….. 

Blackberry Curd

350g blackberries

225g cooking Apples

1 large lemon (juice and zest)

125g butter

350g caster sugar

4 large eggs

    1. Peel and core the apples and roughly chop. Pop into a saucepan alongside the rinsed blackberries and cook over a gentle heat for approximately 15 minutes or until soft and pulpy. 

  1. Rub through a sieve to create a smooth vivid purple purée.

  2. Place the purée into a double boiler with the lemon zest and juice and stir over a gentle heat until combined.

  3. Add the beaten eggs, sugar and melted butter and stir.

  4. Using a plastic or wooden spoon Keep stirring the mixture, to prevent it from sticking, until thickened, this can take up to 20 minutes.

  5. Remove from the heat and once the curd has cooled a little pour into a warm jar and cover with a circle of waxed paper and leave to cool completely. Served immediately on thickly sliced bread, scones or sandwiched in a vanilla sponge or alternatively cover with a lid or some cellophane and keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.

For more information about our tea room or the whole of Cragside please follow the link below.

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cragside/

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