What To Do with all the BC Blackberries

What To Do with all the BC Blackberries

Next to my community garden is a lane that goes nowhere, a busy street, an empty field and a few houses. The last time I went to weed, I noticed a massive blackberry bramble along the hedges of the lane-to-nowhere – with the fruits just turning black.

I have weird feelings about urban foraging. The city feels grimy, there are people everywhere, and somehow taking something naturally occurring feels less ‘appropriate’ (or even less safe) than buying pre-packaged goods flown in from wherever and rung in by a cashier. Intellectually I know this is far from the truth, and city grime is probably better for me than the pesticides and preservatives keeping those packaged foods longer on those fluorescent-lit shelves, but it was still with a moment’s hesitation that I tackled this oh-so-urban bramble. But tackle it I did.

Foraging Blackberries in Vancouver

Wild blackberries are everywhere right now. They probably always are this time of year, but I’m more aware of them right now. They also seem to be especially delicious – right at that full, warm-in-the-sun and falling off the branch state. Just be careful, wild blackberries are particularly thorny, so be sure to dress accordingly. I wore long sleeves and gloves. I also brought a small table to stand on (the berries I was aiming for were particularly high, they had more sun and were riper and were less picked over.)

Within 20 minutes I’d picked a colander full, so now it was time to figure out what to do with it. I was eating by the handful, but wanted to preserve the harvest a little longer too.

The answer? Blackberry jam. This recipe is adapted from Food in Jars‘. (The jam was so delicious that when I discovered even more blackberries at my parents’ cabin, I convinced my dad to forage with me and we made a Blackberry Crumble too.)

Blackberry Jam from Vancouver Foraged Blackberries

Wild BC Blackberry Jam Ingredients

  • 3 cups blackberry pulp (6 cups of berries, mashed through a strainer with a wooden spoon)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Half a lemon lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 tablespoon crystal pectic

Blackberry Jam Directions

  1. Prepare your jars.
    1. Wash your jars, lids (new lids only!) and bands in hot, soapy water. Rinse and drain.
    2. Fill a large pot (or canner) with water, and place the jars in one layer along the bottom. (Lots of sites recommend a rack – I didn’t have one and survived without.)
    3. Cover and bring to a simmer, before lowering the heat. Keep them hot until you’re ready to use them.
    4. Put the lids in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
    5. Keep the bands dry and clean nearby.
  2. In a large, non-reactive pot (stainless steel or enameled cast iron), add the crystal pectin to the fruit pulp and bring to a boil. Let boil for 1 minute to activate the pectin.
  3. Add the sugar, stir to mix completely, and let return to a boil.
  4. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest and juice. Stir to combine.
  5. Let the mixture reach a boil, stirring frequently to prevent it from boiling over. Let it boil until it thickens – this was about 5 minutes for me.
  6. Remove your jars one at a time to a clean working surface, fill with the jam, wipe rims, apply lids and rings.
  7. When all jars are filled, return them to the pot of boiling water and boil for 10 minutes.
  8. After processing, remove from the pot and allow them to cool on a dishtowel-lined counter top.
  9. Once the jars are cool, check the seals and enjoy.

Wild Vancouver Blackberry Crumble

Blackberry (and Bonus) Crumble

  • 3 cups wild blackberries
  • 2 peaches, chopped
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Handful of raspberries (really, any fruit at hand)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch sea salt

Blackberry+ Crumble Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Any dish larger than an 8 inch square or 9 inch round pan will work, I used a 9×13 casserole dish because I didn’t want to line it with foil – and I like a healthy ratio of crumble topping to fruit.
  2. Mix up the blackberries, peaches and other berries. Place them evenly in the bottom of the pan.
  3. Use a food processor to cut up the butter, sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Eventually the ingredients will form into small clumps. If it seems too dry, add more butter – but check the consistency by pinching the mixture. If it sticks together in a clump, it’s ready. (This is also the opportunity to eat the crumble-mixture in the guise of ‘testing’).
  4. With suitably clumpy bits of crumble topping, spread the mixture over the prepared fruit. Even it out with a fork to ensure coverage.
  5. Place the crumble in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let cool until just warm.
  6. Best served with vanilla ice cream.

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