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?