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The flavours of brambles (wild blackberries) and whisky are quintessentially Scottish – together they work perfectly. With a little effort and a lot of patience, you will be gifted with something quite unique. If you cannot pick your own brambles, shop-bought blackberries will work too.


How to identify blackberries

A bramble stem with a ripe and an unripe blackberry on it, against a white background.
Blackberries turn glossy black in colour when ripe. © Fiona McAllister Photography/Getty

Blackberries are one of the most distinctive wild fruits, growing on the very widespread bramble plant. Blackberries start green in colour, progressing to red and dark purple, before turning a glossy black when ripe. They can be confused with wild raspberries (red when ripe) and dewberries (waxy black when ripe).

Learn more about identifying wild fruits and sustainable foraging.


When to pick blackberries

A woman picking blackberries from a hedge, holding a Tupperware full of fruits.
Foraging blackberries. © Mint Images/Getty

Depending on the location in the UK (with the south normally seeing ripe fruits first), the first ripe blackberries are usually seen from mid to late July onwards, but the real harvest is typically from mid August onwards into autumn.

Traditionally, blackberries shouldn’t be picked after Old Michaelmas Day on 10 October (used to be 29 September until the calendar reform in 1752), as this is when Lucifer was expelled from Heaven and landed in a bramble bush. He cursed the thorny bush, stamping and spitting on the blackberries.

Blackberries are very versatile fruits and a favourite of most foragers – if you can manage to not eat them all straight off the bush, they can be used to make jam, combined with apple to make crumble, used to flavour spirits or vinegar and much more.

Ingredients

  • 300g Blackberries (bambles)
  • 2 Limes, zested and juiced
  • 50g Sugar
  • 500ml Whisky

Method

  • STEP 1

    Tip the brambles into a large jar along with the zest and juice of the limes. Gently muddle them before adding the sugar and whisky.

  • STEP 2

    Seal the jar and shake well. Store in a cool, dark cupboard but bring out every day for a month to shake. Then store for at least 2 more months.

  • STEP 3

    Once ready to taste, sieve the whisky through muslin or a clean kitchen towel and then serve as an after-dinner digestif.

    A cocktail glass filled with a dark red liquid

Inspired by family recipes and traditional Scottish bakes, Coinneach launched the Hebridean Baker on Tiktok in 2020. Fifteen million video views (and counting!) later, Coinneach has motivated his followers around the world to bake, forage, learn Gaelic, have a dram or two or whisky and to lead a more wholesome, simple life.

Coinneach MacLeod

This is a recipe from his debut book, The Hebridean Baker - Recipes & Wee Stories from the Scottish Islands. Focusing on small bakes that use a simple set of ingredients, these recipes will unleash your inner Scottish baker. It's all about rustic, homebaking and old family favourites because as Coinneach says 'Homemade is Always Best.'

The Hebridean Baker book cover

Authors

Coinneach MacLeodBaker, forager, TikTok creator and author

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