Nigel Slater’s blackberry recipes (2024)

The persistent bramble that appears from the old garden wall refuses to fruit, which makes its annual appearance all the more irksome. Blackberries have previously fruited well on the damp, shaded side of this garden, tied on to rusty frames, as juicy as they were reliable. But the haul was never quite enough to justify their presence and they lost out to a flirtatious Hydrangea paniculata. One of the problems of a small urban garden is working out how to use the limited space. Enough fruit for one pie per year does not guarantee something a home.

The blackberries in the shops are good enough, especially the smaller varieties. Expect the larger ones to be bloated and over-sweet. But either way their juice is plentiful. It trickles through salads of bulgur wheat and chopped parsley; into the pan juices of sautéed pork steaks and through the sodden crust of a late summer pudding made with half plums to berries. A few blackberries will sharpen up an apple pie and make a gloriously runny jam. I also like them with rye bread and soft, fresh goat’s cheese but maybe that’s just me. The wild ones – smaller, sharper, more intense – are my first choice, but to be honest they are pretty thin on the ground in my neck of the woods.

Pork and blackberries is a winning combination. One of the most popular recipes to come out of this kitchen involved massaging a gammon with a panful of them and cooking slowly over a couple of hours. Filming it for television sent my hands purple for a week. This time I revisited the marriage but using the berries inside a handsome pork roast with fennel seed, parsley and soft, white breadcrumbs. The addition of the berries made a seasonal change from apple sauce and acted as a pleasing reminder of why centuries of cooks have married the flesh and fat of the pig with sharp fruits.

Porchetta with blackberries

For a belly roast that is to be stuffed and rolled, I normally ask the butcher for a piece roughly 2.5kg in weight, boned, skin on and scored. Opened flat is should measure approximately 35 x 25cm. Such a roast will serve 6, or 4 with plenty left over for eating cold. Once the pork is out of the oven and resting, I often remove most of the oil from the roasting tin, add a glass or two of cider and a little seasoning, bring to the boil over a moderate heat, stirring continually, then serve the resulting juices with the roast.

Serves 6
pork belly 2.5kg, boned weight, skin on and scored

For the stuffing:
parsley a bunch
fennel seeds 3 tsp
soft, white breadcrumbs 8 tbsp
lemon zest of 1
blackberries 300g

Remove the leaves from the parsley, roughly chop them – you will need 5 heaped tbsp – then put them in a mixing bowl. Pound the fennel seeds with a pestle and mortar to release their fragrance and add them to the parsley. Add the breadcrumbs to the bowl. Finely grate the zest from the lemon and combine it with the breadcrumbs and parsley together with some salt and black pepper.

Lay the pork skin-side down on the work surface or chopping board, long side facing you. Scatter the seasoned crumbs in a line on top, roughly 6cm wide in the centre of the meat, then put the blackberries on top in two lines.

Starting with the side facing you, roll the meat up and secure, in six places, with string. Fasten tightly. Transfer to a roasting tin and set aside in a cool place, uncovered, for an hour.

Set the oven at 220C/gas mark 8. When the oven is hot, place the pork in the oven, roast for 25 minutes then lower the heat to 160C/gas mark 3. Continue roasting for 1 hour and 35 minutes, checking that the fat is crisping nicely without burning. Cover it loosely with foil if necessary.

Remove the pork from the oven and set aside, loosely covered, to rest for 20 minutes. This will produce a juicier roast. Carve thickly and serve.

Peaches in blackberry sauce

Nigel Slater’s blackberry recipes (1)

Rather than risk getting perfectly ripe peaches home unscathed, I choose fruit that is slightly firm and push it towards ripeness on the kitchen windowsill for a few days, turning each one every morning. Any peaches that fail to ripen volunteer themselves for cooking, either in a light syrup or in a pan on the hob with a little sugar and butter. This week, a purchase of peaches stubbornly failed to soften, so they ended up in a pan with a butterscotch and blackberry sauce.

Serves 4
peaches 3
butter 30g
caster sugar 60g
water 3 tbsp
blackberries 250g
ice cream or cream to serve

Halve the peaches, discard the stones then cut each half into four thick slices. In a wide, shallow pan melt the butter, add the sugar and leave to melt over low to moderate heat. When the sugar has dissolved, pour in the water and mix gently, bring to a bubble then lower in the slices of peach and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the peaches are becoming soft and tender, then scatter the blackberries into the pan.

Leave the fruit to simmer for a couple of minutes, until the berries start to colour the sauce. When all is hot and bubbling, and the sauce is a deep purple red colour, divide between four bowls and serve, either with ice cream or cream.

Email Nigel at or follow him on Twitter @NigelSlater

Nigel Slater’s blackberry recipes (2024)


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