Category Archives: blackberry

vinegar pete…

Way back last autumn the lovely OH helped out with some apple juice pressing.  The event was in aid of raising funds for our local library and all the apples were sourced from local orchards.  He brought home a 5 gallon fermentation bucket of juice and stuck it in the piggery.  Over time, the juice fermented, the sugars turned to alcohol and then to acetic acid.  This cold pressed, unfiltered, unpasteurised vinegar also contains the ‘mother’, a collection of beneficial bacteria, enzymes and proteins – it’s meant to be very beneficial healthwise.  The lovely OH tried some, hasn’t pegged it, so we’re good to go.

We use a lot of this vinegar, not just as the base liquor for pickles but also, for making flavoured fruit vinegars.  At the moment I’m picking a couple of kilos of raspberries several times a week, so this decant was most timely.

I’ll leave the fruit to steep for around 5 days before straining through muslin, adding sugar and briefly boiling.  Once the liquid has cooled I’ll bottle it.  It’s a really simple process, much easier than making jam or chutney. We add a good heft of fruit to our vinegars so they are much better than commercial versions.  The ratios I use are 600ml vinegar to 1 kilo raspberry, then 450g sugar to every 600ml of strained liquid.

Elsewhere on the holding, the berries are ripening on the elder  and we’re running out of elderberry vinegar – our replacement for balsamic.  So that’s next on the list.

Perhaps I’ll also make a blackberry version – it’s always good to try something new!






a rather blustery day…

We’ve had rain and wind, but by 4 o’clock the sun came out and it is LOVELY.   I took a moment to nip upstairs to take a photo of the ornamental garden….

here before, (spring 2015)

and in progress, (the lovely OH is mapping out secondary paths at the moment).

As it was too wet to continue with planting the box hedging, I retreated into the polytunnel for seed sowing.

It has to be said that sowing into modules of sterile compost is far more controlled than sowing direct into our home made compost enriched beds….

The latter will require a lot of precise hand weeding. Our compost heaps do not get hot enough to kill weed seed, so going forward I will module sow and then transplant into the bed.  Hopefully hoeing a number of times before planting up will save a lot of hand weeding.

I succession sowed the peas.  The Douce Provence are ready to go out.  The next tranche is ‘Kelvedon Wonder’…

I planted up some hanging baskets with cascading blackberries,

and started to colour tag the daffodils in anticipation of transplanting…

which is just as well, as other, unknown, cultivars are starting to flower!

More wool needed.





brambling on….

DSC_0503I know it’s autumn because I’ve filled the log basket; the morning air had a definite nip to it.

Today we did a classic autumn forage and went out into the lanes to pick blackberries which are at their best in late August and September. Our own cultivated varieties, planted back in February, won’t bear much fruit for a while.  Out in the lanes, we found that the berries hadn’t ripened up on the hills, though as we made our way back, the lovely OH spotted a fine crop.   Gathered blackberries don’t keep, (see Seamus Healey’s poem for a description of spoilt berries!), so I use them the same day in a dish, or preserve, though they do freeze well.

DSC_0507I’ve also been collecting up the fallen apples in the new orchard as I hope this reduces the likelihood of a serious brown rot attack the following year.  Brown rot is a disease that affects the fruit of apples, pears, and stone fruit and is caused by the fungus, Monilinia fructigena.  

The windfalls are also used up as the unspoiled bits of apple go into the crumble and this year I’m also keeping the peelings and cores for making apple cider vinegar. These scraps will be fine in the freezer until I’ve accumulated enough to three-quarter fill my recycled quart pickle jar.




nothing, nothing but blackberries…

(the title is a snippet from a Sylvia Plath poem which can be read in full here).

I learnt a new word the other day. Batology, the study of the taxonomy of members of the Rubus genus.  Which includes blackberries.  Apparently the genus is so complicated it needs its own -ology.   I’m very fond of blackberries, but I think I’m too flippertigibbety for the -ology.


Not so fly is the lovely OH who has worked very hard on the lane so that we can plant the line of blackberries.   Just over a fortnight ago I ordered a selection of blackberry cultivars from RW Walpole; I chose a range from early, main and late season ripening options, picking those that are reputed to have excellent flavour.  The resulting  list was Obsidian; Karaka Black; Loch Maree; Asterina; Chester and Triple Crown.  I also had a specimen of Black Satin and Waldo.



Whilst some of the cultivars have semi- erect canes I’ll train to the fence rather than end up with a thorny thicket.  The mypex will be covered with wood chippings sourced from a local tree surgeon.

It is still chilly, chilly here.  Too cold for sowing outdoors and so all window sills are covered in seedling.


We keep the fires stoked and fill up on hearty casseroles.


and I pick jugs of sunny daffodils.