If you are a dog owner, you will know that regular exercise is not only a must for your pet, but can be very beneficial for you too. But where are the best places to go for dog walks to keep things exciting? This week Alex from our Falmouth store tells us about an activity that she can enjoy as well as her dog, Lexus; blackberry picking.
The end of summer and the beginning of autumn is my favourite time of year; the trees are changing colour, there’s a slight chill in the evening and you get that beautiful smell of bonfires in the air. This time of year also means one very exciting thing: Blackberries. Blackberries are a really tasty fruit which ripen around this time of year and picking them can be just as much fun as eating them.
So on Saturday, Lexus and I decided it was just the right time to go and forage for some of these delicious treats, as not only are they great for humans but safe for dogs and full of goodness too.
Before you go blackberry picking however, there are a few things you should be aware of:
- ALWAYS make sure you know what you’re eating. Do not pick anything that you don’t recognise as it could be bad for you. Check a reliable guide if you aren’t totally sure what a blackberry is!
- Blackberry picking on public land is legal providing the berries you pick are for your personal consumption only. This means, you can’t sell the berries you pick or any goods which you make from them.
- Don’t forget about the wildlife! Blackberries grow on hedgerows which are an important habitat for many animals including the endangered Dormouse. Try not to disturb anything or hang around one area for too long!
- Blackberries are for all! Don’t go mad and pick loads otherwise other people and animals won’t get a chance to enjoy them too.
- Wash everything before eating! You never know what animals have been in the area.
I chose to go to a spot along the coastal path alongside Gyllyngvase Beach, the main beach in our home town of Falmouth.
Picking a decent blackberry can take a bit of time; some are not quite ripe yet and others are still at the tangy stage. I prefer my blackberries to be quite large and very ripe as this is when they are at their sweetest; however this means you have to spend a lot of time trying to spot the right ones. One reason I love blackberry picking is that it’s quite a relaxing activity and whilst I gaze at berries trying to decide which ones I want to add to my pot, Lex is enjoying his freedom of pottering about, smelling things and investigating new territories that he might normally walk past.
Once we had collected our small portion, it was time to walk the rest of the coast path and then go home to enjoy the fruits. I cleaned the berries by first popping them in a bowl of warm water to soak for a couple of hours. This helps to clear out any hidden nasties. I then ran them under the tap for a final clean. There are loads of things you can do with blackberries such as make jam, put them in a tart, blitz them into a smoothie or eat them as they are.
I offered to share the blackberries with Lex, which was only fair as he had been on the forage too, however he turned his nose up at them and actually spat one back out into my hand! He is a fussy little thing, though, and lots of dogs do enjoy eating this fruit!
Lex rating – 6/10 – This activity was definitely enjoyed more by me! Especially as I got to enjoy all the reward! However a walk is a walk as far as Lexi is concerned and the time he got to spend exploring was definitely a bonus. For me however, this was a 9/10 walk and it’s great fun to do if you have kids (or grown up kids like me!)
How to Make Blackberry Jam!
You will need:
- 2 cups of blackberries
- 2 cups of sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 450ml water
- Jam jar
What to do:
- Rise all your berries first, as explained above
- Pop your berries in a pan with the water and lemon juice and cook on a low heat until they have softened.
- Remove the berries and push them through a sieve with a fine mesh. This should remove all the seeds.
- Put the berry puree back in the pan on a medium heat and add the sugar.
- Stir the mixture until the puree is thick.
- Whilst your mixture is cooking, heat your jam jar on a very low temperature
- Remove the mixture from the heat and spoon the mixture straight into the warm jam jar.
- Allow to cool
And there you have it…jam! Spread over toast or if you’re going to do it properly Cornish style, spoon some on a scone with some Cornish clotted cream!