Today, 1st October is Devil Spit Day, the day when the Devil spits on blackberries making them no longer fit for eating.
These arbitrary dates are becoming even more irrelevant as the climate changes. Actually, this particular tradition predates the Gregorian calendar and the comparative date would now be 11th October. But my point is, that true seasonality can’t be tied to any date but depends instead on being able to read all the signs in nature. As the following extract from Raynor Winn’s The Salt Path puts it – the blackbirds know the moment.
He held out the Tupperware box, half full with glistening, ripe purple fruits. “Do you want a blackberry?”
The blackberries we’d picked along the way had been small, tart and sharp, so I took one only out of politeness, but when I put it in my mouth it was like no blackberry I’d ever tasted. Smooth, sweet, and a burst of rich claret autumnal flavour, and in the background, faintly, faintly, salt.
“You thought blackberries had passed, didn’t you? Or you’ve eaten them and thought you didn’t like them. No, you need to wait until the last moment between perfect and spoilt. The blackbirds know the moment. And if the mist comes right then, laying the salt air gently on the fruit, you have something that money can’t buy and chefs can’t create. A perfect, lightly salted blackberry. You can’t make them; it has to come with time and nature. They’re a gift, when you think summer’s over and the good stuff has all gone. They’re a gift.
From The Salt Path by Raynor Winn.
You can see my recipes for blackberries here but if you find the perfect, lightly salted blackberry – just eat and enjoy!