Wild Raspberry and a Wild Raspberry and Thyme Flower Custard Tart
Updated: Jun 17
This is a seriously fantastic recipe and an unusual combination that I am sure the more you think about the more you’ll think.. Hmmmm that might just work! Beautiful wild raspberries bang in season are sweet and juicy, why not cut that flavour with a herb? Why not thyme?
Trust me when the rich custard, which is the secret to this all working together, gets involved you know it will work. OK, couple of tips before that happens, a well known supermarket now sells specialist free range organic eggs where the chickens gorge on an additional secret supplement, marigolds! This fantastic addition to their diet yields beautifully orange yolks with great flavour, try and source those! Also, thyme flowers are extremely seasonal and with us for a very short while (right now in the south of the UK), if you can’t get thyme flowers simply try it with just thyme leaves (maybe lemon or orange thyme).
But first, let's learn a little more about the wild raspberry, its habitat, where to find it and how to identify it.
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The Wild Raspberry
The UK wild raspberry, also known as Rubus idaeus, is a species of raspberry that is native to Europe, including the United Kingdom. It is a member of the Rosaceae family, which also includes other fruit-bearing plants such as strawberries, apples, and roses.
The wild raspberry is a deciduous shrub that typically grows to a height of 1m to 1.5m. It has a spreading habit, with long, arching stems that bear thorns. The leaves are compound and have three or five leaflets with serrated edges. The plant blooms in late spring or early summer, producing small, white flowers with five petals.
The fruits of the wild raspberry are the main attraction. They are small, round, and usually red in colour, although they can also be yellow or black. The berries are formed from multiple drupelets, which are individual segments of the fruit. They have a sweet and tangy flavour, making them a popular ingredient in jams, jellies, desserts, and beverages. The wild raspberry fruits are generally smaller and have a more intense flavour compared to cultivated varieties.
In the United Kingdom, wild raspberries can be found growing in various habitats, including woodlands, hedgerows, heathlands, and along the edges of fields. They are particularly abundant in Scotland and other areas with suitable growing conditions. The plants thrive in moist, well-drained soils and can tolerate both full sun and partial shade.
Wild raspberries are a valuable food source for wildlife, attracting birds, small mammals, and insects. They are also hugely enjoyed by foragers who gather the berries for the table.
While wild raspberries are smaller and more challenging to cultivate compared to commercially grown varieties, they are well worth seeking out for their unique flavour and the joy of finding them when on the forage.
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How do you identify Wild Raspberry?
Identifying wild raspberries (Rubus idaeus) can be done by looking for specific characteristics of the plant and its fruits. Here are some key features to help you identify wild raspberries:
Growth Habit: Wild raspberries are deciduous shrubs that typically grow between 1 and 1.5 metres (3 to 5 feet) in height. They have long, arching stems that can be thorny.
Leaves: The leaves of wild raspberries are compound, meaning they consist of multiple leaflets. Each leaf usually has three or five leaflets attached to a central stem. The leaflets are serrated along the edges.
Flowers: Wild raspberry plants produce small, white flowers with five petals. The flowers typically appear in late spring or early summer and are usually found in clusters.
Fruits: The fruits of wild raspberries are the main distinguishing feature. They are small, round berries that can be red, yellow, or black, depending on the variety and ripeness. The berries are made up of multiple drupelets, which are individual segments forming the fruit. They have a sweet and tangy flavour.
Habitat: Wild raspberries are commonly found in various habitats such as woodlands, hedgerows, heathlands, and along the edges of fields. They prefer moist, well-drained soils and can tolerate both full sun and partial shade.
Remember to handle wild raspberries gently as they can be delicate.
When are Wild Raspberries in Season?
Wild raspberries are typically in season during the summer months, specifically from late June to early August in the United Kingdom. The exact timing may vary depending on the specific region and weather conditions. It's best to keep an eye out for ripe berries in the wild during this period. The fruiting season of wild raspberries is relatively short, so it's important to take advantage of the opportunity to harvest them when they are at their peak flavour and abundance.
Can you eat Wild Raspberry?
Yes, you can eat wild raspberries and they are truly delicious! They are very edible and have a sweet and tangy flavour. Enjoy them fresh or use them in various recipes like jams, jellies, pies, desserts, and beverages.
Get more wild food recipes by checking out our selection of Wild Food Cookbooks.
Wild Raspberry Recipes
There are numerous ways to use wild raspberries in your culinary creations. Here are some ideas:
Fresh Snacking: Enjoy wild raspberries as a simple, refreshing snack. Rinse them gently and savour their sweet and tangy flavour straight from the plant.
Fruit Salads: Add wild raspberries to fruit salads for a burst of vibrant colour and juicy sweetness. Combine them with other berries, melons, and citrus fruits for a refreshing salad.
Jams and Jellies: Create homemade jams and jellies with wild raspberries. Cook them down with sugar and lemon juice to make a delicious spread for toast, scones, or pastries.
Dessert Toppings: Sprinkle wild raspberries over ice cream, yogurt, or custard for a delightful and visually appealing dessert topping. The berries complement creamy textures and add a burst of flavour.
Baking: Incorporate wild raspberries into your baking recipes. Add them to muffins, cakes, pies, tarts, and bread for a fruity twist. They pair well with flavours like lemon, almond, and vanilla.
Sauces and Coulis: Make a luscious sauce or coulis by blending wild raspberries with a touch of sugar. Drizzle it over pancakes, waffles, cheesecakes, or panna cotta for a tangy and vibrant addition.
Beverages: Use wild raspberries to infuse flavour into drinks. Muddle them in cocktails, blend them into smoothies, or add them to iced teas and lemonades for a refreshing twist.
Salad Dressings: Create a homemade salad dressing by blending wild raspberries with olive oil, vinegar, honey, and your preferred seasonings. This fruity dressing can elevate green salads or be used as a marinade.
Chutneys and Salsas: Combine wild raspberries with savoury ingredients like onions, jalapeños, and herbs to create unique chutneys and salsas. These condiments can complement cheeses, grilled meats, or roasted vegetables.
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Wild Raspberry and Thyme Flower Custard Tart
Well this tart is my absolute favourite way to use wild raspberries.. Also, why not try and find wild thyme or the even more elusive wild raspberry? A little more tougher granted, but if you regularly walk the coasts and hedgerows of our great island you might eventually come across some! Alternatively you can make this with standard thyme and shop-bought raspberries, but if you can forage the wild ones this recipe becomes even more special.
Wild Raspberry and Thyme Flower Custard Tart Recipe
100g unrefined caster sugar
3 free range organic eggs
200g plain flour
Pinch of salt
Tsp finely chopped thyme leaves
2 large free range eggs, and an extra 3 yolks
125g unrefined caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
2 tsp cornflower
600ml double cream
A small handful of thyme flower tops
125g fresh wild raspberries
Your going to need a frilly edged pop out bottom flan case, buttered!
First up, the pastry.. Hopefully I haven’t got to tell you that your butter is going to need to be room temperature, it does! You need to mix it and the sugar together and whisk or beat it until it’s well combined and fluffy and then start to add your egg yolks until they are all combined. Next add the flour, chopped thyme leaves and the salt and then mix, using your hand where need be to form a dough ball. Wrap it up in cling film and place it in the fridge until ready (min 20 minutes).
Get the oven on, 200 degrees should do it!
Now line the base of the flan tin with baking paper. Flour a clean surface and then get your pastry unwrapped and ready to roll out.
You want to roll the pastry out into a round, as with most pastry the thinner the better, obviously we need to make it manageable and so it won’t break. Ease it into the tin making sure that it gets into the edges of the tin but making sure that there is a lip of pastry hanging over the edge. Now fork the base of the pastry, cover in a round of baking paper and fill with baking balls or marbles.
Bake the pastry blind for 10 minutes, then remove the marbles and paper and then continue to cook until lightly golden. When you remove the pastry from the oven turn it down a few degrees to 180 degrees and tidy up the edges with a butter knife.
Meanwhile in a separate bowl we can make the filling. Place the eggs and the additional yolks, corn flour and sugar in a bowl. Split the vanilla pod with a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds and add them to the mix.
In a saucepan place the cream and the empty vanilla pod, heat until nearly boiling, remove the vanilla pod and then add hot cream to the egg mixture stirring to make a smooth but runny custard.
Now liberally place some of the raspberries into the tart case and pour over the custard until the case is nearly full. Now gently half submerge a few extra raspberries and generously sprinkle thyme flowers over the top of the custard.
Now the tart can go back in the oven until just set, depending on your oven this should take 25 or so minutes – keep an eye on it!
When cooked and there is no wobble when, well… You wobble it. Your there!
Place a few extra fresh wild raspberries on top, sprinkle a few more fresh thyme flowers and serve the tart warm with clotted cream.
Delicious sweet wild raspberries set in a rich custard with a light herby background on the pallet. Lovely summer'y and very seasonal so if you see thyme flowers get in there whilst you can!
Foraging and eating wild raspberries can be a delightful and rewarding experience. These vibrant berries, with their sweet and tangy flavour, offer a unique taste that is distinct from cultivated varieties. The act of foraging for wild raspberries allows us to connect with nature, explore our surroundings, and appreciate the sweet bounties of our wonderful island.
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