Picking wild blackberries in fresh, crisp, Autumn air is one of my favourite memories from childhood. There’s nothing quite like gathering these juicy, slightly sharp berries and then cooking them into a home-made treat! They are the perfect example of local, fresh and seasonal food. Humans evolved as hunter-gatherers – there’s something about being surrounded by nature, and seeking out the best berries to pick that seems to bring out the inner-gatherer in me! By happy coincidence, the best spot I ever found when growing up was Shotover Country Park in Oxford near my home – also the best place for lung-busting hill repetitions and cross country training.
Berries are well-known for their multiple health benefits, among them high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants. Blackberries have relatively high vitamin C, vitamin K and dietary fibre.
The best recipe for blackberries, without doubt, is crumble…a baked desert with fruit on the bottom and a crumbly sweet mixture on top. However, crumble has a lot of sugar in it, so it scores a bit of a black mark there. To remedy this, I have adapted the traditional crumble recipe into a healthier version – with wholemeal instead of white flour, oats to increase the fibre content, and much less sugar. I also add apples, the perfect Autumn companion to blackberries, cinnamon to add a little warmth and flavour, and ground almonds to add protein. You could also add a little desiccated coconut. It is delicious eaten hot with Greek yoghurt (or even ice-cream, if you dare!), or cold as a snack.
Healthy blackberry and apple crumble
100g wholemeal flour
100g rolled jumbo oats
80g ground almonds
100g butter or other oil
Bramley cooking apple, one large or two medium
Pinch of cinnamon
Peel, core and chop the apple into small pieces and place in the bottom of a large, oven-proof baking dish. Wash the blackberries, place on top of the apple pieces, and sprinkle the cinnamon over.
To make the topping, mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Then using your fingertips, work the butter into the mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. Pour the crumble mixture onto the fruit, and spread it evenly all over.
Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 45 mins until the topping is browned and juice from the fruits is bubbling up around the edges. Allow to cool a little, then serve with Greek yogurt on top.
Mara Yamauchi for World Athletics