- Food & Drink
Can you go foraging for wild food in Peckham? The answer, surprisingly, is yes. At the moment the park and canal walk are heaving with blackberries and nobody seems to be picking them. So I put on my forager’s hat and picked nearly a kilo of plump, juicy and slightly stainy blackberries. I also learnt that there are several rules for successful London foraging:
1 Wear jeans, even if it’s really hot, and, unlike me, don’t wear a short sleeve t-shirt – especially not a white one. What was I thinking?
2 Bring tubs, not plastic bags. I filled my plastic bag up, put it in my backpack and went off to buy mint. When I got home I had a very purple backpack.
3 If you accidentally put your hand through a cobweb, don’t scream and dance around on the spot, shaking the invisible spiders off your arm. You will look like a fool.
4 If you’re eating as you pick, pick berries above the dog piss level. Since most people near me have staffies, I reckon this is about 1/2 metre high. Adjust according to your locale’s dog preference.
5 An hour and a half blackberrying is more than enough for anyone.
I was so pleased with my haul that I decided to make an entirely blackberry crumble; no apples to stretch the fruit out at all. I’ve kept it plain, with just a little mint to add freshness to all the sugary richness. Serve warm – not hot from the oven – with cream. It’s also good cold for breakfast.
900g blackberries, washed, drained and patted dry
140g caster sugar
1 1/2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
200g plain flour
100g chilled butter, chopped into small chunks
1 Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/fan oven 160°C. Place the blackberries in a bowl and gently stir in 100g of the sugar and the mint. Spoon into a 1 litre ovenproof dish. Set aside.
2 Sift the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips to make fine crumbs. Stir in the remaining sugar and sprinkle over the blackberries. You may need to press this down a bit to fit – I don’t like to stint on the crumble.
3 Place the crumble on a baking tray to catch any juices and then bake for about 40 minutes until the topping is golden and the blackberry juices are bubbling. Leave for 15 minutes to cool down and then serve with cream.