self-catering holiday cottage, holiday rental near Alton Towers and Peak District

Self-catering near Alton Towers and Peak District - Call Barks Holiday Cottage 01538 703436 email barks@btconnect.com or book online.

Thursday

Bilberry Season

In June 2008 I read an article in The Guardian newspaper about the Bilberry, aka Winberry or Blueberry, and its northern roots. link: http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/food/story/0,,2284528,00.html#article_continue

Apparently this superfruit is sold in Morrisons in its northerly outlets; I wonder how much for. Curiously, readers of this Guardian article were advised that the season is August and September - maybe that is so in the north. Here in the Midlands, however, it is prime bilberry season in early July.

Favourite uses in our household are bilberry and strawberry jelly and freshly collected bilberries on our breakfast cereal.  I trek into the woods first thing to gather them for breakfast (double health benefits from this).

Personally I am not keen on them when they become over-ripe.  There is something about the smell of processed bilberries that can be off-putting, especially in cartons of juice and bottled squash.  They have to be fresh from the woods for us.

Bilberry Tourism to Churnet Valley

From Walking the Moorlands - Walks around Barks Holiday Cottage
There are some woods and moorlands around our holiday cottage that are full of bilberry bushes.  In the spring the woods are buzzing with bees visiting the bilberry flowers (pictured above).

This is a popular area with walkers as it is, but in the July bilberry season we become a tourist destination for bilberry fans. Some stop for a chat and seek permission to pick these super-fruits.  Walkers are such polite people.  Really keen pickers come with those comb-like bilberry pickers that really speed up the fiddle of the picking.  I slightly regret not buying a bilberry picker when I saw one during our holiday in Norway.  But on the other hand it doesn't take long to pick a breakfast worth.  Some local friends make wine - I have yet to try it.

Two thoughts for eager, younger pickers: don't eat too many when out picking or you'll get purple poo (!) and please could you mind the walls with your purple fingers when you get back to our holiday cottage!?

Apart from that, enjoy foraging for these fruits of the forest and connecting with the spirit of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.  Bilberries are very therapeutic for so many reasons - physical and spiritual.