Species Of The Week Number 48: Blackberry

Free food is available all over Meanwood right now, get out there and try it! As Seamus Heaney says in his poem Blackberry Picking:

"You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for

You wont be the only locals taking advantage of the crop. The Meanwood Brewery produces a sour IPA called Enemy of my Enemy which contains blackberries, and Leeds Gin produces a blackberry-infused gin.

The crop is really fantastic this year, maybe because of all the rain we had in July. Round our house we have already had blackberries on our morning cereal, blackberry flapjack for a snack, and a highly recommended beetroot, blackberry and goat's cheese salad.

We are part of a long tradition. In about 500bc in Denmark a woman ate some blackberries and then died and was buried in a bog. Sad. The body of "Haraldskær Woman" was preserved in the bog which is how we know the contents of her last meal.

What distinguishes a blackberry from a raspberry - apart from the colour - is that the middle bit (the torus) stays with the blackberry when picked whilst with a raspberry it stays on the stem, which is why raspberries have that hole in the middle.

A single blackberry isn't actually fruit. It is lots of fruits (called drupelets) growing together as one aggregate fruit. Perhaps surprisingly, Mexico is the world's leading producer of blackberries.

Meanwood blackberries are at their peak now but you have until 11th October to pick them. Thats the date of Old Michaelmas Day when, according to folklore, the Devil goes around stepping, poo-ing or spitting on them. Whilst this may not be technically true (an early example of fake news?), they do start to develop potentially toxic moulds when the weather starts to turn cold and wet. Maybe Haraldskær Woman got her dates wrong.

Publicado el 21 de agosto de 2023 por clunym clunym


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