For High Tea
Bilberries: Bilberries are any of several primarily Eurasian species of low-growing shrubs in the genus Vaccinium (family Ericaceae), bearing edible, nearly black berries. The species most often referred to is Vaccinium myrtillus L., but there are several other closely related species. Bilberries are distinct from blueberries but closely related to them.
Bilberry (especially Vaccinium myrtillus) is also known in English by other names including blaeberry in Scotland, whortleberry in southern England, whinberry, winberry, windberry, wimberry, myrtle blueberry and fraughan. In several other European languages its name translates as “blueberry”, and this may cause confusion with the related plants more usually known as “blueberry” in American English, which are in the separate section Cyanococcus of the genus Vaccinium. The bilberry is native to Europe including the British Isles, while the blueberry is native to North America.
Mum’s bilberry plate pie and clotted cream for high tea! Never have so few words sounded so comforting and delectable, with images of long ago childhood days and family bilberry picking, then home to a hot cup of tea, and an hour or so later my mum had transformed our rich pickings into a golden, buttery shortcrust pie, filled with the freshly picked aromatic berries……
….today’s recipe was not made by me, but I’ll share the recipe all the same, as it WAS made by my mum and enjoyed on a recent visit back home to North Yorkshire. On a shopping trip to nearby Malton, we spied in one of the greengrocer’s, several punnets of glossy, dark blue berries – bilberries! Some were already a little withered, but with a discounted price attached to them, we bought 2 x 500g punnets to take home.
After some sifting, sorting and washing, the berries were ready for pie making……and with such a large haul, mum set out to make two pies, one for immediate greedy eating and one for the freezer and later delectation. Using an enamel pie plate, which we find conducts the heat better resulting in crisp pastry with not a soggy bottom in sight, she whipped up a couple of pies, just as I remembered, in little over an hour, and so we had bilberry pie and clotted cream for tea!
The recipe for mum’s bilberry plate pie (sometimes called double crust pie) is shared below, and although we didn’t pick the bilberries this time, it was just as delicious and comforting as I remember from my childhood days. If you can’t source any bilberries, them by all means use blueberries instead, but they are VERY different in taste and maybe blackcurrants might be a better substitute for tang and flavour.