forage in the autumn

One of the great things about living in the countryside is that we have lots of opportunity to go foraging.  And, Autumn is a great time to go.

Not only is it a brilliant way to cut down on food packaging and unnecessary plastic waste it’s also great for getting outside in the Autumn sunshine and the Grandkids love to go Blackberry picking.

Here are some of my favourite Autumn foraging recipes.

Blackberries

Blackberries are probably one of the most abundant fruits available in the wild in the UK and you don’t need to look very far to find them.

Just remember when you’re picking Blackberries don’t pick them alongside a road with all those nasty car fumes. And,  don’t pick the ones which are low down on the bushes just in case a dog has stopped for a wee.

There are quite a few things you can do with your Blackberry haul once you’ve picked them.  They’re great for making jam or cordial but I think my favourite is balckberry and apple crumble.

Sloes

Sloes and Damson look very similar but they taste very different.  Sloe bushes have sharp thorns and wild damson trees don’t. Damsons have longer stems and look more like a tiny plum. Sloes have shorter stems and are closer to the branches more.

Sloes grow on the blackthorn bush and they are ready to pick when they turn a deep purple colour and are slightly soft to the touch.

A lot of people will tell you that you need to pick them after the first frost if you’re using them to make Sloe Gin.  However, this isn’t necessary as you can pop them into the freezer which works just as well.

Sloes are very bitter when raw but you can make Sloe syrup or Sloe jelly or mix them with other fruits to make jam.

But, I think the best use for Sloes is to make Sloe Gin.  And, here’s how you do it:

Ingredients:

  • 1 litre bottle of gin
  • 450g sloes
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1 large sterilised jar
  • How to:
  1. Wash sloes and seal in an airtight bag. You can use a reusable silicone once or the inside of cereal packets make good freezer bags.
  2. Freeze overnight or until you’re ready to make the gin.
  3. Defrost the sloes and place them into the sterilised jar.
  4. Add gin then the sugar into the jar.
  5. Seal jar tightly and shake well.
  6. Store jar in a cool, dark place and shake every other day for a week. After the first week you only need to shake it once a week for 2 months.
  7. After 2 months it’s ready to drink so stain the liquid and place into sterilised bottles.
  8. Enjoy your Sloe Gin.

Sloe Gin

Rosehips

It wasn’t until recently that I actually started to collect Rosehips and make Rosehip syrup and jelly from them.  All Rosehips are edible but the best ones for making syrup and jelly in the UK are from the native Dog Rose (Rosa canina) which are especially high in vitamin C.  Rosehips contain 20 times more vitamin C than oranges !

Crab Apples

Crab apples are the ancestors of today’s cultivated apples.  They have small, round fruit and are usually green with a pink blush or golden yellow.  They are ready to pick in late September / October.

The fruit is small and sour, but they have an exceptionally high level of pectin and acid content which makes them ideal for setting fruit jams and jellies. They have a tart and tangy apple flavour.

Elderberries

If you haven’t picked all the Elderflowers earlier in the year you will be able to pick the Elderberries in September. But remember not to eat raw Elderberries as they are poisonous when raw.

Elderberry syrup is a great natural remedy for coughs and colds as the berries are packed full of vitamin C and antioxidants.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Elderberries
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of raw honey

How to:

  1. Remove berried from the stems, I find this easiest with a fork
  2. Place the berries in a saucepan and cover with twice as much water. (i.e. for 1 cup of berries, use 2 cups of water.)
  3. Place the pan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer
  4. Simmer for 30 minutes mashing the berries with a fork occasionally as they cook.
  5. Strain the juice through a muslin into a bowl
  6. Stir in the honey.
  7. Pour into a sterilised bottle or jar , seal and keep in the fridge for up to 6 months
  8. Dilute with water or soda water to drink

Eldereberry Syrup

Happy foraging.

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