Not a lot has gone right this year but one thing that has carried on regardless on is Nature in all her wonderful bounty.

The warm Spring weather brought forth clouds of blossom on fruiting trees and shrubs and we are now reaping the rewards.

The blackberries are wonderful at the moment – great big juicy berries – it really has been a bumper harvest and free for the picking!  What’s not to like? Well, OK … a few scratches but it’ll be worth it!

Blackberries are bursting with vitamins such as antioxidants A, E and C (they contain more Vit C than blueberries) and minerals including potassium, magnesium and calcium. They are also an excellent source of anthocyanins, powerful plant antioxidants that give blackberries (and other dark fruits) their deep purple colour.

There has been lots of research into these plant compounds and they have been shown to support immunity, have antiviral and antibacterial properties and may exert an anti-inflammatory effect in the body.

Berries are delicious on their own or as part of a berry mix.  They freeze very well once picked – I spread them out in one layer on a tray and then freeze before decanting into a box. That way they stay separate and you can take out as many as you need. They are lovely in smoothies, added to stewed apples in a compote or crumble,  and make a delicious addition to a gravy or sauce for duck or goose.  Both ginger and star anise are spices that enhance the flavour of blackberries and bring an added piquancy.

While you are out and about see how the elderberries are ripening.  These wonderful fruits are packed full of nutrients and are traditionally used for supporting immunity – particularly the respiratory tract.  They are often sold as a syrup or cordial and there are lots of recipes online if you want to try making your own.

It is recommended that these elderberries should not be eaten raw as they may cause nausea and stomach upsets.