If you see people crouching in hedgerows, especially in the north of England, don't worry, there's nothing suspicious. They are picking bilberries which are very much in season right now. The tiny black berries aren't, as many think, small blueberries: these little beauties are rarely cultivated but more usually found growing wild. They are notoriously difficult to pick but let me assure you, it is well worth the effort. Though acidic when eaten raw, cook bilberries with a little sugar and create a dense and deep-flavored fruit perfect for pies and for jam making.
One of my favorite ways to eat bilberries is in a pie. Cooked with sugar and apple, packed into a pastry crust and baked it is one of summer's best dishes, especially with a large dollop of thick clotted cream
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