By Mike on Wednesday, August 25, 2010, 22:31 - Permalink
During a very productive foraging walk in Flowerdale Forest, Wester Ross, in a damp and shady wooded area, we came across a number of blackcurrant bushes in full fruit.
What Are Blackcurrants?
Ribes nigrum - a shrubby plant of wooded places, hedges and thickets, with tough wiry stems and downy or bristly light green leaves that may be slightly sticky or clammy to touch, with a resinous, musky aroma.
The berries, which may be glossy purple-black or covered in blue-white waxy bloom, are borne on long stalks that hang straight down from the stems - so they're not always immediately visible without rummaging a bit amongst the leaves.
When the berries are fully ripe, they should be very slightly yielding to the touch and should detach from the stalks easily.
There is usually a brownish tuft at the blossom end - this is the remains of the flower, and is best removed before cooking/eating them - it's easy to just pluck off using the fingernails.
I picked a mixture of raspberries, bilberries (locally known as blaeberries) and blackcurrants.
Ideally, I'd have picked the different types of fruit into separate containers, but I only had one with me on the walk, so I had to sort out the blackcurrants from the mixture on returning back to the holiday cottage.
Adding just a tiny splash of water and some sugar (about half the weight of the berries) to a pan, I simmered the berries gently.
About five minutes later, the berries had softened, burst and released lots of deep purple juice, which had formed a light syrup with the sugar. I took the pan off the heat before the blackcurrants completely broke down to pulp.
I made some scones (recipe here).
I served the raspberries and bilberries fresh and raw on whipped double cream on the oven-fresh scone, with the warm blackcurrant compote spooned over the top.
In case it isn't abundantly obvious... this was remarkably good to eat. A Wild food triumph!
Highland Wild Food
This article is one of a series on wild foodstuffs foraged on holiday in the Wester Ross area of the Scottish Highlands in 2010 - click the 'Highland' tag in the side column to see some of the others.