My blog has fallen into a long sleep over the summer. There are a few posts cooking that I have started, but the energy to finish them has not yet arrived. So I am changing my strategy and am going to start freeing up my creative juice by writing random posts about whatever comes to mind. And right now, blackberries are feeling pretty juicy to me.
Over the past few weeks, on my almost daily excursions onto Hampstead Heath, I have been relishing the abundance of these little black fruits. The combination of rain and sun seems to have made them particularly bountiful and succulent this year. There are bramble bushes all over the heath, and it doesn’t take long to find one a bit off the beaten track which still has plenty of berries.
I love that living in the city I can walk out of my flat and within minutes be foraging for food, available for free, on my doorstep. I can become absorbed in the activity of looking for the juiciest perfectly ripe ones, whilst avoiding being barbed by the fine bramble thorn, then popping them from hand to mouth and experiencing their sweet and sharp flavours. Before long my hands and mouth are stained deep purpley blue, and I am feeling like an animal or a primitive human who lives simply off whatever they find, and feeling connected to the plant that provides the food, the soil, the sun and the rain that feed it, and the whole cycle of life.
This sense of living simply on the earth and having a very direct connection with what we eat, is not often experienced in urban life (unless you are a keen gardener and grow your own produce). However it is something that feels deeply nourishing, as well as being super nutritious. Wild foods tend to be richer in nutrients and life-force than cultivated foods, and the fresher they are the better.
So even if you live in the city I highly recommend a trip to your nearest woodland or wild piece of land and make the most of the berries while they are still available.
As well as the blackberry pickers, I have also seen mushroom collectors on the heath, in the woods. But I am not so keen on mushrooms. And at different times of there year there are various greens that can be picked – nettles, and dandelion leaves, and sorrel for example.
For more information about wild food foraging in the uk check out this site:
At the end of October the Gaia Foundation are hosting a food foraging event on Hampstead Heath in London.
Some info on the humble blackberry: