Foraging for food is by far one of life’s greatest and underrated pleasures. It’s not only a great excuse to get outside, connect with your environment, and get to know your local flora, but whatever you find is organically grown and free! Could it get any more gratifying than that? I doubt it.
The edges of the bike path below my apartment here in Copenhagen, are lined with hundreds upon hundreds of wild blackberry bushes. Be still my heart! I have been dreaming about the day when the juicy little jewels turn from a deep pink to almost black, their juicy weight bending the thorny branches of their tangled mess of a home.
“Isn’t it a little early for blackberries?” a man asked me as I was poking around in the brambles this morning. Au contraire, my Danish friend. An avid forager will know exactly the right time to strike, especially if she wants to get to the goods before everyone else does. There were certainly enough ripe berries to pick; I just left the pink ones to sunbathe a little longer.
By now the strawberries have come and gone, raspberries have seen better days, but blackberries are making their way into the spotlight. Choosing the ripe berries is relatively easy: they should be very dark purple (almost black, imagine that), firm, and bulging with juice. In fact, picking them should involve little more than a slight brush of your hand – if they require tugging of any sort, they are not ready to come home with you. Unripe berries will not ripen once picked, so leave those ones for a few more days and they will taste far sweeter.
When I got home with a full basket and a full tummy, I had the overwhelming urge to bake something sweet and decadent. I am, after all, having a Canadian friend come visit me, and baking is the best way I know to make guests feel welcome.
I came up with this simple, whole-foods recipe from several unhealthy ones I found online, and the results are insanely delicious. Please make this, I beg you.
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
6 cups blackberries
1/4 cup Sucanat or organic raw sugar
2 Tbsp. whole grain flour (spelt, kamut, wheat etc.)
3 tsp. cinnamon, divided
1 cup rolled oats or spelt flakes
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup organic, cold butter
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
pinch of sea salt
1. Peel apples, chop and stir in lemon juice.
2. Submerge blackberries into a large bowl of water and gently turn to remove any dirt, leaves etc. Drain and combine with apples.
3. Sprinkle sugar, flour and 2 tsp. cinnamon over top of the fruit and mix.
4. In a separate bowl, combine rolled oats, maple syrup, walnuts and remaining cinnamon. Cut in cold butter until crumbly. Spread over fruit. Add a sprinkling of raw sugar on top, if desired.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.
You could serve this with ice cream (made from goat’s milk, obviously) – but alas, I could not find any here in Copenhagen.
Blackberries abound in antioxidants, such as anthocyanin pigments, responsible for the purplish-black colour of blackberries and may impart health benefits because of their antioxidant properties. Additional antioxidants in blackberries are vitamins C and E, and ellagic acid; all may provide protection against cancer and chronic disease. Cooking does not seem to destroy ellagic acid, so even blackberry jams and desserts retain ellagic acid health benefits. Crumble anyone?
23 thoughts on “The Foraged Crumble”
I have been teasing your blog and using your fabulous recipes for many years. Just wondering how I could make this vegan – could I use oil instead of butter? Would love to know your thoughts please.
Hello! You sure can, use cold coconut oil in place of the butter. It won’t be quite the same but of course just as delicious!
This sounds so delicious. I’m making dinner for 12 next weekend and I’m wondering how many servings I’ll get from you recipe? I’m making it with plumps, hopefully it’ll turn out great 🙂
PS. Thanks for sharing all these wonderful recipes with us.
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just made a strawberry rhubarb version. the sweetness was perfect! i tried using agave nectar & arrowroot hoping the arrowroot would thicken the “sauce” up a bit..didn’t work as well as i hoped 😛 the agave made the sauce a little looser than sugar would, but nothing catastrophic. i’ll try brown rice syrup & flax next time!
Great Jenn! Thanks for letting me know 🙂
So i did up the gluten-free version of this with flax meal like you suggested and it was fabulous! Thanks for the tip!
Since there is so little flour used, anything would work: rice, teff, buckwheat – i bet ground flax would be amazing! And even healthier 🙂
So glad you like the crumble. I still make it all the time!
In light, Sarah B
my husband and i made this and it was just delish! i’m hoping to make it this weekend for easter, but my mom is celiac. is there a gluten-free flour that would substitute in well in this recipe?
What a fun site! Great to hear about foraging expeditions around the world. I just love hunting blackberries as well. This crumble sounds fantastic!
I made this for a dinner party and people went berserk. I will be making it for my parents (and myself) again soon. huzzah!
oops – I used gala apples because they are crispy and sweet to offset the tartness and softness of the berries.
Hi there –
Good question about the agave. You can always give it a try, but I feel that the sugar (in whatever form) needs to be dry, to combine with the flour, as it makes a kind of sauce when it’s baked. Give it a try for sure, and let me know the results. And you can absolutely use agave for the topping, and Earth Balance instead of butter. Thanks! – Sarah
Love your blog! Thanks for sharing all these jewels.
Question about the crumble recipe. Can agave nectar be substituted for the sugar? Also, any particular kind of apples? Thanks much!