Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Autumnal foraging

Now that its a little colder outside its easy to look a few months forward to the fast approaching winter and forget entirely about the fruit filled hedgerows which are itching to be turned into jams, wines and preserves. Thanks to the wonders of freegle I was lucky enough to acquire a pile of brewing equipment which i'm hoping will produce a range of interesting (and cheap) christmas pressies this year to accompany the jam pots and knitted wares already on the way. With this in mind I popped out for a quick look around to see what i could find...

First to be found was a pile of crab apples, on the floor so ready to use, helped down from the tree by a freezing wind...not sure shorts were the right choice for today's forage! Crab apples alone or mixed with other fruits (elderberries, blackberries) are good for jellies

Next to be found was a tree filled with sloes, not quite ready yet- I think they need to be picked after the first proper frost. I saw lots of these, not too popular other than as an addition to gin because they are amazingly sour. Processed properly they can apparently be turned into amazing sloe cheese

Next up was a blackberry bush, I'm not sure its been a great year for blackberries this year but the few I found still tasted lovely.

A little further along was this fantastic plum tree, great for just eating although i've used the fallen plums from this tree to make the most beautiful jam for the last few years

Elderberries will grow just about anywhere that they are allowed to, usually seen on bits of scrubland, by the sides of roads and lining the canals- great in jams and good in wine. Its easy to spot when they are ready to pick because the weight of the fruit begins to pull the end of the branch back towards the ground

Rosehips are easy to spot and are good for turning into rosehip syrup- rosehips are rich in vitamin 'C', far richer than oranges apparently

Last up was a surprise find- wild hops, perfect for a little bit of home brewing!

There was more to be found but I had to head home, my bag filled with fruits. If you do decide to go out looking for useful fruits make sure you have a look in a good book first and/or take someone with you who knows what they are picking and definitely avoid anything low to the ground and near to the path, its bound to have been drenched by the local dogs

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