Pickled Blackberries + Orange Labneh

pickled blackberries + orange labneh

Serves 6 sensibly, 4 greedily.


As pre-Christmas-drinks turn into post-New-Years-drinks and then all of a sudden it's the end of January, I needed a light summery dessert to take to my cousins for dinner. This is essentially berries and cream, and although the berries have quite a lot of sugar on top, in the end they’re tangy and pickled-tasting and the whole thing is creamy and salty and tart and sweet. Which works for me. This is super easy but you should start the night before to get the best labneh and infuse your sugar. Also, this didn't actually make it to my cousin's house, we ate it all whilst taking the photos, (Sorry Liz).

1kg natural yoghurt

½ tsp. salt

1 tbsp icing sugar (sifted)

1 orange (zested)

500g fresh blackberries

3 green cardamom pods (crushed + ground) or ½ tsp. pre-ground

6 tbsp. caster sugar

½ tbsp. preserved lemon liquid

Bunch of fresh mint

Muslin, cheesecloth or a clean tea towel.

Preferably make the labneh the night before. You could make it in the morning and give it a few extra squeezes to help it along during the day if you are short on time.

Mix salt and icing sugar into the yoghurt. Sit a strainer over a deep bowl and lay a large piece of doubled muslin (or tea towel) over the strainer. Pour yoghurt into the middle of the muslin and twist the ends up and tie together. I use a rubber band around the knot as well to make the cloth as tight as possible. Give the yoghurt a good squeeze getting out as much liquid as you can before leaving it to drain in the fridge overnight.

Crush cardamom pods and grind seeds in a mortar and pestle. Add caster sugar and grind with cardamom. Cover and leave to infuse. (I do this with the labneh the night before).

About an hour before serving sprinkle the cardamom sugar and preserved lemon liquid on the blackberries and leave to macerate for minimum thirty minutes*.

The labneh should be a firm cream cheese consistency by now. Mix the orange zest through before spreading it out flat on a plate. With a slotted spoon, ladle the blackberries in the middle. Or, if you strangely find you don't own a slotted spoon, do it badly with a slotted spatula and spill juice everywhere like I did. Tear up some fresh mint leaves and scatter on the top of the berries. Add extra mint to each serve and be generous, its beautifully fresh and really makes the dish.

* This seems like a crazy amount of sugar to tip on top of beautiful fruit I know, but I had really potent pickling liquid so I needed to balance it out. It’s really up to your taste buds and how tart your berries are, so I would suggest adding half the cardamom sugar mix and keep tasting and adding while the berries are macerating until its just sweet and just pickled enough.