This autumn we've tried to get stuck in much more to countryside treats. The hedgerows have been bursting with berries for weeks and it's frankly ludicrous that we've not made better use of what's on offer in previous years.
The most obvious start was the blackberries. We thought there would be thousands around but it rather turned out to be slim pickings on our initial hunt. It took quite a long time to collect a modest quantity and we had to be selective to ensure that any bad ones didn't make it into the bag. Of course, in the following days we did see masses all gloating at us that we no longer has need for. They did seem to be later than usual this year? C commented that there still seem to be some around even now and I'm inclined to agree that it's unexpected. With the blackberries I made a blackberry and (Bramley) apple crumble which reminded me so much of my Grandma who would crumble anything. I distinctly remember a tinned strawberry crumble (which I wouldn't recommend to anyone!).
We decided, although independently, that we ought to make ourselves some sloe gin. I have to admit that I wasn't 100% sure about which bushes had sloe berries so just to be doubly sure, we did check. Then it was really obvious. Again, there were hardly any to be found on our first search which is because someone else had cleared out all but a few. The next place we tried had loads and they were much easier to get to, though the best ones are up high so it really pays to have someone taller than you so they have to struggle for the fruit up high. That's my top tip. I held the bag and patiently waited. Somebody has to.
We ended up with enough for three vats of sloe gin, of which we've got two lots going (a litre of gin each) and one portion of sloes still in the freezer for another time. We asked Hazel's advice how to go about it.
Elderberries were also on our shopping list. We were only just in time to catch them before they turned; C checked the springs before selecting the ones which still looked healthy, w hile I was on bag holding duty. The elderberries are now making elderberry vodka. I'll definitely be giving this a go. We'll pick them earlier next year when they're plentiful! Did I mention that we picked elderflowers in summer to make cordial? C made it and drank it, somehow I missed out and I don't know why. Next year we'll do it again.
There are so many opportunities to forage in the countryside throughout the year and I'm really intrigued about making the most of all there is on offer. Next year I wonder what I could do with rosehips?