Foraging for food: adventures with blackberry yogurt


I recently had another of those ‘great’ ideas – you know, the ones that go ‘orribly wrong. On Friday, I was out walking when I spotted some wild blackberries. Like most local walkers, I often pick fruit from the hedgerows. The ripest ones are snapped up quickly, so when I reached for one of the biggest berries in a good sized cluster, I was not expecting much. 

To my delight, this berry was sweeeet; plump and juicy; perfectly ripe; the canes were dripping with them. I tasted a few, noticed other plants nearby and thought ‘I’ll be back!’.

They weren’t growing in a particularly lonely place, but people are more likely to pass by in cars than on foot. So unlike the blackberries growing by well-trodden paths, these didn’t seem to have been grazed by ramblers who’d come before.

I’m blaming the weekly photo challenge for not going straight back with a dish to gather them as soon as I got home – I saw the subject was grid and got distracted. (WordPress, how could you?)

Just two days later, after checking it was legal to pick the blackberries (it is: the right to forage wild berries is protected by law) and the exhausts of cars wouldn’t poison me (I decided the risk was minimal), I returned.

This time I was armed with a couple of bags and my Mother as extra man… no, make that womanpower. I thought it’d be fun: a reprise of many happy days picking wimberries on the moors when we were kids.

After a glance I began to fear we were too late: the grass verge had recently been machine trimmed – annihilated. I walked mournfully along the path to check for survivors. The only sign of all that deliciousness was a few thick, mangled, woody stems sticking up awkwardly, bereft of their treasure.

Ignoring the fact that I’d been planning to harvest the ripe ones myself, I felt indignant on behalf of the birds and wildlife. After all, I’d only have taken the ripe ones: there would have been plenty of green ones to follow. We carried on our journey, but I kept drifting back to the berries and their black, liquid honey.

Later that day, by searching areas the hedge trimmer hadn’t touched, I discovered some more, less accessible, slightly less ripe berries, mingled in with nettles. Hurray! A few stings, scratches and prickles later, the bag was half full and I proudly bounced off to split the rewards of foraging with my Mother.

Foraging. That’s what nature lovers are supposed to do and I’d done it.

I decided I’d turn my blackberries into a healthy treat by mixing them in with low fat, live yogurt. I felt virtuous, sanctimonious even – never a good look on a Susan. And that’s where it all started to go ‘orribly wrong.

Goats yogurt

I picked out the healthiest plain yogurt I could find (live goats’ yogurt, freshly made on the farm) by checking the sugar content and calories, and put it in my shopping trolley with a proud flourish.

My sweetheart can’t stand yogurt but I’ve always quite liked it. Plain yogurt has little appeal, but I love the slightly tart, liquidy type flavoured with blueberries or cherries.

A little sourness doesn’t bother me: I’ve often let yogurt go a day or two over its sell-by date to try to sharpen it a little. At a Real Food event, for a dare, I once sampled plain yogurt flavoured with pumice or volcano ash, I forget which. It was a brownish colour and surprisingly moreish.

Licking my lips, I picked out the ripest looking berries (overruling the temptation to add a little sugar), mashed them in to the yogurt, and settled down for a healthy breakfast.

The goats’ yogurt was thin and lightly chalky; more to the point it was mouth-puckeringly, mind-grabblingly sour. The first few mouthfuls got my attention by bringing my legs out in goosebumps (I’m not kidding). It didn’t really improve after that.

Determined not to add refined sugar, I tossed in a few cut up grapes, hoping to rescue the situation. Even when gingerly picking out the grapes, the experience only hovered on the edge of pleasurable.

Blackberry yogurt

If I ate this healthy eating breakfast each day, as some websites recommend, I might lose a few pounds off my hips, but by tightly screwing up my face at each sip, I’d end up with wrinkles in places a girl just doesn’t want wrinkles. Laughter lines, I’m ok with, but I don’t fancy getting distaste etched into my face!

Call me lily-livered if you will, but my problem is this – I’ve got two thirds of a tub of goats’ yogurt left. I don’t want to add sugar or honey but I’m open to ideas. Is there any hope?

24 Replies to “Foraging for food: adventures with blackberry yogurt”

  1. M & S Toffee Sauce is the sugar loaded solution to plain yoghurt. Scrummy! If you are determined to stick to something healthy then a sachet of passion fruit swirled through your yoghurt may do the trick. I thought eating was supposed to be pleasurable or there’s no point.
    Toss your chalky yoghurt in the bin and vow never ever to let anything so revolting cross your lips again. Full fat organic Greek yoghurt is best. Buy a big tub and just have a small amount in a tiny dish. Ta dah!

    1. Do you know, I intended to buy Greek style when I set out. Next time! I don’t think I’ve seen the passion fruit sachets… I’ll look out for them.

      It’s very tempting to throw it away. I’ve only just stopped wincing at the mere sight of it each time I open the fridge.

  2. I can think of a few things for rescuing this but most involve a sweetener or cake batter in some form …. maybe even low sugar pancakes?

    1. There’s something about this yogurt that intrigues me. When I’m not actually eating it, I can’t believe it’s as sour as I remember. I promise that if it’s still bad second time round, it’s out on its (goat’s) ear.

  3. Great idea for foraging. I like to do some foraging myself. Check your local farmers market for fresh fruit. Buy frozen fruit. It’s the best unless you buy fresh. Go to a natural foods store. See what local delights they have. Love yogurt, also. I like Greek yogurt or vanilla yogurt. I add frozen blueberries or mixed berries. They keep longer and you can add to taste. I just don’t like plain that much.

    1. I’m planning to try frozen fruits for when winter comes around. I read recently that one fruit is more nutritious after it’s been frozen (blueberries, I think). Don’t know if that’s an ‘internet fact’!

      I’ve never tried vanilla yogurt – I’ll perhaps try that, though it’ll be a small pot next time I’m experimenting!

  4. Stevia–the real kind purchased at a whole foods market. Sweet Leaf Liquid Stevia, in a dropper bottle–is the best, if they still make it. All the powdered brands sold in Mexico are now 1 percent or less Stevia. What a fraud!

      1. sugar with the calories removed, sucralose, saccharin. All that bad stuff. But if it is one percent (or less) stevia, they can label it STEVIA in huge letters!!!

  5. I too have seen over-zealous council workers cut away fruit laden blackberry and hawthorns. Thankfully they can only get to one side of the hedgerow in most cases! I like the idea of the banana smoothie. If you add some Greek yogurt as well a couple of spoons of your sour goat’s milk yogurt you may get the desired effect!

    1. There were hawthorns here too. That’s a good point – these were against a wall, but they did leave some towards the back. It was the sunnier side with the best berries.

      This morning I stirred a little honey in (not even a full teaspoon) and added plenty of blueberries and it was much better. No point being a purist!

    1. Ice cream sounds lovely – perhaps with meringue – the berries I ended up with aren’t exactly the liquid honey I thought I tasted in the first ones. That’s for after my health kick though!

      Perhaps when we’re walking little roadside treats seem sweeter and juicer than they really are or perhaps the ripest ones did get chopped down. Either way they do need something sweeter.

  6. Ummm, think I’d be tempted to try Total 0 Greek yoghurt if I did this…might not need the sugar, or at least not much. It’s the only natural yogurt I can stand on its own. Good luck! 🙂

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