Thursday, 12 July 2012

Blackberries

3.5"X2.5" Acrylic on canvas paper

The blackberries are wonderful this year. I have been picking about a pint a day. I am freezing them as I pick so that I can make a big batch of jelly in the Fall when we have fresh apples. So far I have about 5 pounds (2.5 kilos).

I pick them every morning when I come back from my walk, and this morning I decided that I should paint some before they went in the freezer. So I made this quick acrylic study while I was eating my breakfast. Pretty tricky, as I had to be careful not to dip my brush in my cereal
 
I am not sure why the blackberry harvest is so much earlier here than in Europe where it has always been an Autumn fruit. It may be the varieties or something to do with the climate. One of my best childhood memories is going up to Highdown Hill with baskets and walking sticks (to pull down the high brambles).  We used to do this usually just before going back to school in September, often taking the bus.

When we got home we would boil them up with apples from the orchard at the bottom  of the garden, Granny Smiths usually, then they would get strained through cheesecloth overnight. We had an old-fashioned gas stove with a plate warming rack where people usually have an exhaust fan these days. This was perfect for tying the cloth-wrapped blackberry mush. Once the juice was all strained out, we would add one pound of sugar for every pint of juice and boil again to the soft ball stage. The apples provided enough pectin that there was no need to add any extra and the jelly would be bottled in jars with cellophane across the top, held with elastic. It doesn't sound very sanitary, but I guess we ate it all so fast that it didn't get a chance to go bad. The mush of course went on the compost heap. Wast not want not.