Growing up I had always wondered about whether fruit and berries I saw beside the road or in parks were edible. “Don’t eat them,” my mother warned. “You don’t know what they might have been sprayed with.”
I am living on the edge now, throwing all caution to the wind because – shock, horror – I have eaten wild blackberries and survived. And I also took my kids with me when I picked them.
Blackberries grow wild in patches throughout Canberra in huge thorny thickets. They are invasive. I always wondered as I drover past in a hurry if the fruit was edible. So last weekend I stopped the car near a thicket and got out to try some.
So sweet! So satisfying! So much fun to find the ripe black berries hidden! So thorny. Hands black with berry stains and with small cuts from the thorns, I headed back to the car with my treasured berries – which included a few collected by my three year old (with help – I didn’t let him go near the thorns.) My six year old was unenthused, but did try one or two.
I did wonder, out of a sense of parental guilt, about whether the blackberries had been sprayed. They looked like they were growing pretty well so I guessed no-one had been to throw chemicals on them recently. I asked food blogger and forager extraordinaire Susan from Susan’s Sumptuous Suppers about this (she had also been foraging for blackberries recently). She assured me that big signs warning about spraying are put up before anything happens. But in any case the blackberries are rarely sprayed while they are fruiting. “If you are concerned, ring up Canberra’s Territory and Municipal Services and ask them if they are spraying in that area,” she suggested.
Why didn’t I think of that? To actually pick up the phone and ask the relevant government agency if they were spraying chemicals? It made me wonder a bit why I trustingly buy stuff from the supermarket without asking the same questions about what has been sprayed onto my fruit and vege.
Back home, I used the blackberries in some smoothies for lunch (which Little A enjoyed, but Big A didn’t as he only likes plain banana). Then I used some for yoghurt pops, and still more leftover for an ice-creaming topping sauce. I felt I used too many blackberries for this recipe frozen popsicle recipe; when I make them again I will add only 1/3 to 1/2 of a cup as a like a creamier version. But add as many or as little as you like.
This is a simple recipe, but very cost effective. And also very calorie friendly as well.
500ml skim milk yoghurt
1/2 to 2/3 cup foraged blackberries
4 to 5 pieces artificial sweetner (or 4 to 5 teaspoons sugar)
- Make the yoghurt by adding two spoonfuls of culture powder (e.g. of an Easi-yo sachet) and 1 1/3 cups of water to a 1 litre container. Mix to combine then leave in a warm place for around eight hours. I make mine in an Easiyo thermos.
- In a blender, combine all ingredients. Process until smooth.
- Pour into ice-cream popsicle moulds and freeze.
- Eat and enjoy!
Yoghurt (homemade) 60c
Artificial sweetner 10c
Blackberries – free
Total cost: 70c or 9c a serve
29 calories a serve