Foraging Autumn Hedgerows

Country walks are at their most enjoyable in the autumn, when the hedgerows are full of berries and fruit ready to be foraged and made into delicious food and drink. Martyn Loach has been out and about to see how much of nature's bounty he can gather.

Created by Martyn Loach on Wednesday, 3rd of September, 2014.
Updated on Friday, 4th of May, 2018.


Damsons

When days shorten and the season of mellow fruitfulness is upon us, there's a plentiful supply of damsons, sloes, black and other berries. Once back home, they can be turned into a delicious treat for the taste buds or a warming drink as the weather turns cold.

Damson Jam

Often ignored, this compact fruit packs quite a punch, and makes the best jam you will ever taste. The one problem is their stones. These can either be extracted from the individual fruits before starting the jam or fished out when the jam is simmering. Both methods are rather painstaking and messy.

Take 6lbs of damsons and simmer them in a steel (not aluminium pot) with a small amount of water until soft. Don't overcook, it's preferable to have little chunks of fruit in the jam, a lot tastier than the over processed supermarket product.

Warm 4lbs of sugar (commercial jam is usually 50/50 fruit and sugar, but I find that too sweet) and add to the fruit. Continue cooking on a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Now turn the heat up to maximum and boil for ten minutes.

Spread a little jam on a cold plate, let it cool and, if a crinkled skin forms, the jam is ready. If not continue to boil for a few minutes and test again. When it's ready, let the jam cool and pour in jars that have been sterilized.

Sloe Gin

You have to possess some patience with this recipe, it's a slow sloe process.

Beware when you are picking sloes as the blackthorn bush lives up to its name, your hands may resemble pin cushions afterwards. The sloes should be ripe not hard and they are ready to harvest in October, perhaps after the first frost that many people believe improves their flavour.

Prick the sloes so that their juices can be released and fill a kilner jar that's been sterilized. Dissolve caster sugar in gin or vodka to the ratio of about 1 to 4 and pour into the jar. Close and shake. Place the jar in a cool cupboard or dark place.

For the first seven days shake the jar daily, then only once a week for a minimum of eight weeks, preferably twelve. When you can't wait any longer strain the liquid through muslin into sterilized bottles.

It will be drinkable but will greatly improve in flavour if left for a few months.

Bramble Jelly

Due to the amount of seeds found in blackberries, jelly can be preferable to jam.

Place about 2lbs of blackberries in a heavy non-aluminium saucepan with a little water and simmer for 25 minutes, mashing the fruit to get all the goodness out. Sieve the mixture through muslin into a bowl, using a wooden spoon to squeeze out all the liquid or, if you want the jelly crystal clear, let it drip through overnight.

For every pint of liquid add ¾lb of sugar (depending on how much of a sweet tooth you have). Simmer while dissolving the sugar, this should take about 15 minutes. Then boil for about 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. Check whether it will set in the same way as jam and bottle in airtight sterilized jars.

For products related to the season of mellow fruitfulness visit the GardenSite Autumn Gardening Shop.

Related Articles

How To Store And Preserve Fruit And Vegetables

How To Store And Preserve Fruit And Vegetables

In the autumn, when there is a glut of fruit and vegetables, particularly if you have an allotment, you may have to store fresh produce or conserve it in some way, here Martyn Loach offers some advice.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Wednesday, 19th of August, 2015.

Foraging For Fungi

Foraging For Fungi

Foraging has now become so popular that a national newspaper publishes a column on the subject. Martyn Loach says this isn't surprising as foraging for mushrooms is free and your harvest can be extremely tasty.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Wednesday, 26th of August, 2015.

Grow Herbs For All The Right Reasons

Grow Herbs For All The Right Reasons

Interest in growing herbs has increased sharply over the last few years as we have turned back to nature to exploit the culinary, medicinal and aromatic properties of these plants. David Hall gives you a few tips on what herbs to choose and how to grow them.

Author: David Hall

Written by David Hall.
Published on Thursday, 27th of August, 2015.

comments powered by Disqus

Author

Martyn Loach

Editor in Chief

View Profile

RSS

View RSS Feed

Follow Us!

Tags

Recent Articles

Review of Halls Qube Greenhouses

Review of Halls Qube Greenhouses

Robert Hall reviews the new Halls Qube Greenhouse, stating that; this is a major evolutionary step in greenhouse design. Read his full review of the new range here.

Author: Robert Hall

Written by Robert Hall.
Published on Thursday, 29th of November, 2018.

GardenSite Supports Successful Boldmere Community Festival

GardenSite Supports Successful Boldmere Community Festival

GardenSite were once again pleased to support the Boldmere Community Festival which took place on 18 November, with the Christmas Lights switched on by Alan Gardner, well known for his appearances as TV's Autistic Gardener.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 23rd of November, 2018.

What To Do In The Garden In December

What To Do In The Garden In December

Whether it's a bleak December or the more mild weather we are becoming used to, you can still spend useful time in the garden during the last month of the year. David Coton suggests some garden jobs that can occupy the short days.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Monday, 20th of November, 2017.

How Can I Prevent A Pond From Freezing?

How Can I Prevent A Pond From Freezing?

An iced over pond will have a detrimental effect on animal and plant pond life, although fish and amphibians will survive under a frozen surface for some time, ice traps gases escaping from decaying material and prevents oxygen from entering the water.

Author: Dan Everton

Written by Dan Everton.
Published on Wednesday, 22nd of August, 2018.