Foraging for bilberries

bilberry flowers at Blackdown in May

Yesterday we went to Blackdown to forage for bilberries. I wrote about bilberries back in May when the bushes were in flower – here.

Bilberry bushes are of the genus Vaccinium; closely related to blueberries and cranberries. They grow on acidic, nutrient-poor soil, so they like the heathlands of Surrey. The leaves are a pretty fresh green in the spring, but otherwise it’s a fairly non-descript, low-growing shrub. The berries are very tasty; similar to the larger blueberry but with a more tart and complex taste.

There had been lots of flowers so I was hoping for lots of berries, but I think others had had the same idea as the bushes bordering the main paths had been stripped bare. We found bushes with berries still on them off the beaten track a bit. We didn’t want to take everything and leave none for the birds so we just picked a cupful or two.

I thought they’d be nice added to some blueberries to make a pie, and we bulked them out with some blackberries and raspberries from the allotment. Delia Smith has a nice simple recipe – here – for a one-crust rustic fruit pie where you just roll the pastry out, heap on the filling and fold the pastry over the pile of fruit. Painting the base of the pastry with egg yolk and sprinkling on some semolina stops it getting a soggy bottom. It was rough and ready but that felt just right for a pudding of foraged fruits with juices bubbling down the outside of the pastry, drenched with double cream. πŸ™‚


7 thoughts on “Foraging for bilberries

  1. These photos remind me of my youth. We lived in Germany for a few years. My mom would take us berry picking, then we’d all bake. She’d make pies or breads, and always had miniature tins for us so we could bake our tarts and mini-loaves beside her. Thanks for giving me a nostalgic smile this morning.

  2. Pingback: Free Food! | Green Impact Student Homes

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