My Mum’s Blackberry Purée
(Courtesy of Food That Rocks. Recipe from Brian May, one of the creative forces behind the supergroup Queen. From May: “This is something very simple, yet to me, even now that I am (nearly) grown up, is still the most delicious substance known to man (and vegetarian, of course).” Warning: the blackberries stain everything they touch (wear a napkin) and it’s acidic (go gently if your stomach is sensitive). But the flavor — it’s a killer — is guaranteed to blast your taste buds into outer space! Makes 2 “luxury” helpings) 10 cups luscious, fat blackberries
1 teaspoon water
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
2 Bramley apples, peeled and chopped (optional) First, pick the blackberries while they are at their best, in late summer. Only use the ones that are ready to be picked (these are black all over and come off the plant with only a gentle pull). Wear covering on the hands and arms. The bramble bushes are vicious! About 200 luscious, fat berries is a good number to make enough purée for two luxury helpings, or to store in the fridge, to sip at for treats over a week or so. Put blackberries in a pan with a teaspoon of water to get them started, and 2 or 3 tablespoons sugar (this is where it gets naughty), though you can adjust this amount of sweetening to taste.
Gently bring to boiling point, stirring with a wooden spoon (that you don’t mind getting stained dark purple). Turn the flame to low and keep stirring and squashing the berries until the liquid becomes an even paste, not longer than 5 minutes or so, because vitamin C doesn’t survive long at 212 degrees F. Now if you have a couple of freshly scrumped Bramley cooking apples, they could be chopped up and put in the pan with the berries, for an extra tang. But blackberries on their own give the purest flavor. Remove the pan from the heat and pour into a metal sieve, over a glass or china bowl. Use the wooden spoon to churn the paste around, squashing the juice through and leaving the seeds behind. The pure, red elixir can now be eaten or put in the fridge. It tastes really fabulous poured over ice cream, or the “Junket” my mum used to make (a kind of vanilla blancmange), or as a sauce for fresh fruits, or just spooned slowly into the mouth as a wicked pleasure. My daughter also enjoys the purée frozen into a popsicle.