Up at the allotment we have had a lot of blackberries come out, so far several lb’s worth and as much as I love making jam I thought I would have a look at the ‘net and see what else I could do with them.
This dye comes out wonderfully and I have made our new altar cloth with it ready for Mabon:
Prepare the fabric by pre-soaking it in the first pot, using a fixative solution for berry dyes. See the "Tips" section for details on making this solution.
Put on rubber gloves to avoid staining your skin.
Use a measuring cup to determine how many cups of berries are to be placed in the second pot. Crush them lightly with the back of the wooden spoon. Place the pot containing the berries onto the stove.
Measure 2 times the amount of water as berries. For example, if you used 3 cups of berries, pour in 6 cups of water. Pour this water over the berries in the pot. Bring the contents to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to simmer. Wait until the water has turned a deep shade of purple. Strain the berries and discard them.
Place the damp, pre-soaked, fixative-treated fabric to be dyed into the pot. Let the fabric simmer in the dye until the desired shade is attained. Leaving it to rest in the dye overnight yields darker results. The fabric will appear lighter than the colour of the dye in the pot. Squeeze out the fabric under cool, running water and let it dry.
Tips & Warnings
If you are dyeing fabric, remember that natural fibres (as opposed to synthetic or manmade) will absorb colour better. Wool, cotton and silk are all good candidates. It helps if the fabric is already a light or neutral colour. If you choose to collect plant material in the wild, always leave at least 1/3 of the plant untouched, so it can naturally replenish itself. Always prepare fabrics to be dyed by simmering them in a "fixative" solution. The material that will be dyed should be placed in the solution and simmered for 60 minutes. Rinse the fabric in cool water and squeeze the water out 2 or 3 times. After this has been done, the damp fabric can be placed into the dye. The fixative helps the coloured dye adhere better to the fabric. To make a fixative for berry-based coloured dyes, use ½ cup plain salt mixed with 8 cups cool water.
To make a fixative for plant/herbal-based dyes, use 4 cups water and 1 cup of vinegar.
Avoid mixing dyed fabrics with your other laundry. Dyed cloth should always be laundered alone (or with similar colours) in cold water
Jam, well, just had to sneak on into the mix, yummy:
6 lb. blackberries1/4 pint water
1. Put the cleaned fruit, the water and lemon rind and juice in the pan.
2. Simmer until the fruit is soft.
3. Stir in the sugar and boil rapidly until setting point is reached.
4. Remove from the heat, skim, pot, cover, and label.
This is the recipe I used for our Lammas pie, tasted so good that I didn’t get any! By the time it had done the circle and got back to me it was all gone. Just the excuse to make another:
6 oz (175 g) plain flour
1½ oz (40 g) lard
1½ oz (40 g) butter
For the filling:
4 medium cooking apples, about 1 lb (450 g)
8 oz (225 g) brambles or fresh or frozen blackberries, defrosted if frozen, and washed
3 oz (75 g) sugar
milk and caster sugar
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C).
You will also need a 1½ pint (850 ml) rimmed pie dish.
Start by making the pastry : sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, holding the sieve up as high as possible to give the flour an airing. Then cut the fat into small cubes and add to the flour. Now, using your fingertips, lightly and gently rub the pieces of fat into the flour – lifting your hands up high as you do this (again to incorporate air) and being as quick as possible. When the mixture looks uniformly crumbly, start to sprinkle roughly 2 tablespoons of cold water all over. Use a round-bladed knife to start the mixing, cutting and bringing the mixture together. Carefully add more water if needed, a little at a time, then finally bring the mixture together with your hands to form a smooth ball of dough that will leave the bowl clean (if there are any bits that won't adhere to it, you need a spot more water).
Now rest the pastry, wrapped in foil or polythene, in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes while you peel, core and slice the apples straight into the pie dish. Then sprinkle in the brambles or blackberries and the sugar. Now roll out the pastry to about 1 in (2.5 cm) larger than the pie dish, then cut out a 1 in (2.5 cm) strip to fit the edge of the dish. Dampen the edge with water, then fit on the strip of pastry, pressing it firmly, and dampen that too. Then press the rest of the pastry over that to form a lid and, using a sharp knife, trim any excess pastry off. Use the blunt side of the knife and your thumb to press the two edges firmly together and knock the edges all round to give a layered effect. Then flute the edges by using your thumb to make an impression and the broad blade of the knife to draw in the edges of the pastry. Make a steam hole in the centre and, if you have time, make some decorative leaves with the pastry trimmings.
Now brush the pastry with milk and sprinkle on a light dusting of caster sugar. Place the pie on a baking sheet on a high shelf and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C), and continue baking for a further 30 minutes. Then, using a skewer, take out a piece of apple from the centre to test if it's cooked: if it still feels very firm, give it another 5 minutes. Serve hot with chilled pouring cream to mingle with the juices.