Saturday, 4 September 2010

Foraging for Free Hedgerow Food... and Getting in a Jam!

OK, so it's been a bit hectic here in The Lime Garden - everything new went live on Wednesday, and I received my first order, and already loads of enquiries from the US about my Sourcing Service for vintage crockery.  While on the home front I have managed to set up a meeting with a great online gift store, who I am hoping I will be able to create a fantastic new bespoke candle scent for...

But despite all this I have still managed to make a bit of me time, and one thing I have been wanting to do for the past few years is to take advantage of all the delightful wild fruits and berries that abound here in the countryside.  I did a recce a couple of weeks ago, to judge just how far along the bushes and hedgerows were with their harvest, and a then a couple of days ago I set out with empty bags and my doggy companion to plunder nature's harvest.

I was a bit concerned - I had overheard my neighbour chatting about berry picking, and knowing how competitive it can be to get to the right bush at just the right time, I was prepared to wade through brambles to get to the juiciest offerings.

All of these gorgeous fruits are available in the hedgerows around the fields here - all well away from the roads and pollution...

Everyone's favourite - juicy blackberries...


Perfect for puddings - wild damson...


Pass the Gin - an abundance of sloes...


Just fine for wine - elderberries...


  Ignore their bad press - crab apples...

But the one thing I wasn't prepared for was the nettles!  Anyway, I came home with oodles of crab apples, they are really plentiful this year - and as they are not one of the popular picks, there was masses for me to choose the ripest ones from.  The blackberries were fewer and further between - most of the juicy ones had already been stripped from the boughs - but I have noted where the second wave will be ripening, and have planned to go back in a few more days to top up my supplies. (With proper nettle protection this time too!)

Unfortunately, with a tiny kitchen, and even smaller larder, I just can't take advantage of all that is on offer; and it would have been watesful to pick just for the sake of it.  So, damsons and sloes are off the autumnal menu for this year; and I will only be picking the elderberries if the village berry mafia get to the blackberries before me.

I am planning to make two recipes... a Hedgerow Jam - blackberries, crab apples and elderberries; and then some delicious sounding Crab Apple and Chilli Jelly...!  The great thing about using the crab apples is that they naturally contain high concentrates of pectin - so no faffing about with jam sugar.

Unfortunately I can't show you any results yet - but watch out WI, if I get it right you will be knowing about it!

To help me decide what I was going to do with my harvest, I researched on the internet, and have found these great sites.  So if you fancy some free food - get out there NOW, and get picking!





(But if you are unsure what is what - please refer to the last link - and if you are still not sure, leave it be!)



3 comments:

Laura x said...

I too have been making the most of the free blackberries found on the brambles here about, and have also been eyeing up the damsons, sloes and other berries... but as yet have been too worried about picking the wrong thing! I will go check out the links you have posted to find out more!

haptree said...

Just spotted a new cache of sloe's myself today :)

SNOW QUEEN said...

Very interesting links!
We have made jam from the blackberries that where picked local, we would have had more but the dog joins in and he scoffs them as he goes along!!
We have also used the local damsons in gin, ,my OH has got very into making his own spirits lately, the shed is more like a brewery, what with the gin, cider and marrow rum all bubbling away in there! lol :)