These past few weeks I have been spending some time outdoors picking blackberries. Blackberry season is one of my favourite times of the year and is so evocative of my childhood. Whenever I start to pick the berries from the hedgerows, I am reminded of my Nan who, even when she was in her late eighties, loved to go blackberrying.
My children sometimes come out blackberry picking too and we seem to have collected quite a haul already this year. Earlier this week I was on my own, blackberrying, when an old man told me you shouldn’t pick them after 1st October because they will have ‘devil’s spit’ on them.
I’d always thought you couldn’t pick the berries after the first frost but I went home to look up this piece of folklore. Apparently on Old Michaelmas Day (which was 10th October*) Lucifer was expelled from Heaven. He fell from the skies and landed on a blackberry bush. He cursed the fruit and spat on it (hence the ‘devil’s spit’) and made it unfit for eating. So, according to tradition, blackberries shouldn’t be picked after this date. However other advice I have looked at says they are fine to pick until November – it’s really common sense anyway as to how they look and taste. I do like this piece of folklore though.
Following our successful hauls we have made crumbles, frozen a batch of berries and I am now trying to make blackberry cordial, which is meant to be good for winter colds and sore throats.
I’ve also picked up a few apples from the many ‘help yourself’ containers that people have left outside their houses.
What hasn’t been so nice, though, is finding other items when out in the lanes blackberrying, like this plastic packaging I found by a field (not such a great harvest):
This autumn’s fruit harvest, though, seems to have been quite a good one and, despite the ‘devil’s spit’ I’m going to keep on picking blackberries for a little while longer…
Have you been blackberrying too?
*Michaelmas Day is now on 29 September