The hedgerows are bursting with blackberries at the moment so I'm searching for inventive ways to use them. I like my children to have healthy snacks for tuck or lunch at school so I decided to experiment with a sort of fruit/granola bar. These are vegan and sugar-free, the fat coming from coconut oil and the sweetness from ripe bananas, the riper the better so they are a great way to use up bananas that have been hanging around a little too long.
3 ripe bananas
75g self-raising wholemeal flour or 75g of wholemeal flour with 1tsp of baking powder
75g rolled oats
25g desiccated coconut
50g mixed seeds (I used a Whitworth's blend of pumpkin, sunflower, brown and golden linseed, but you could just use one if you preferred)
2tbsp coconut oil melted in the microwave
Peel the bananas then smash them up in a bowl using a fork.
Add the melted coconut oil and mix together.
Mix all of the dry ingredients (except the blackberries) together.
Beat the banana/oil mixture into the dry ingredients and then add nearly all of the blackberries. Fold gently so you don't crush all the fruit.
Turn into a traybake tin lined with greaseproof paper and decorate with blackberries on top.
Bake in an oven at 180/fan 160 for about half an hour to 45 minutes until cooked.
When cooled cut into squares and keep in an airtight container. Use within three days.
Non-alcoholic drink ideas with blackberries
So it seems Sober September is a thing this year. Last year I did Sober October and then I kept on going so this September is my twelfth month with no booze. I feel fantastic on it. I'm sleeping so much better, I've lost weight and I no longer feel guilty for drinking more than I should. However I still like to have an adult drink option in the evening, especially on a Friday night which used to be my gin and tonic time.
I turned to a book called DRY by Clare Liardet for ideas on what do to with blackberries. I had in mind a "shrub" which is a blend of apple cider vinegar and honey flavoured with berries. It makes a sort of country cordial you can then dilute with sparkling water for a refreshing drink or hot water for a warming mugful. Clare uses blackcurrants in hers but blackberries work just as well.
While looking for the shrub recipe I was delighted to see a "mocktail" recipe for a Blackberry Seedlip Smash. It has lime and sugar a bit like a mojito but muddled together with blackberries and Seedlip Spice 94, an alcohol free gin alternative instead of rum. Enjoy over ice, topped up with fizzy water. Delicious. I also made a version without the Seedlip for the children which was also lovely so if you don't have Seedlip you can just do that.
5 large blackberries
1/2 a lime
30ml Seedlip Spice 94
wedge of lime to garnish
Muddle the blackberries, lime and sugar in a tumbler. Partially fill the glass with crushed ice, add the Seedlip and popup wth sparkling water. Serve with a wedge of lime.
Get out there and gather nature's bounty while you can. You don't have to use them straight away. You can always freeze them for use in crumbles later in the season, or preserve them as jam. I'm going to try to make ice-cream too after sampling my friend's home-made blackberry ice-cream yesterday.