Fruit for free

Photograph: Corbis

Photograph: Corbis

The  blackberries have come early this season along the Irish country lanes and the brambles are now heavy with fruit, just ripe for the picking. It is one of the great pleasures for me of living in the country – coming back from a walk laden down with the bounty of free fruit.

So far this week, I have made a batch of blackberry, apple and cinnamon muffins, a blackberry and apple crumble and several berry smoothies.  Of course, I made them as healthy as I could – reducing the sugar content or replacing it with honey or agave syrup, using organic wholemeal flour for the muffins and a crumble topping made with porridge oats, and seeds.  Blackberries rank highly among fruits for antioxidant strength and are noted for their high nutritional contents of dietary fiber, vitamin C, folic acid and the essential mineral, manganese.

Last year, the berries ended up going mouldy on the bushes very quickly after some heavy rains, so I am keen to collect as much as I can early in the season. If you are lucky enough to live where you can pick them too, why not get out there and do so. Just be careful not to pick them near a busy road, where they easily become polluted with toxins.  Or you could visit a fruit farm for a fun day out.

Finally, isn’t that a wonderful picture of the berries ripening? You would almost think you could reach out and pick a few juicy blackberries for yourself…