Hedgerow gathering

Thursday, October 22, 2020


Provided your local hedges haven't fallen victim to inconveniently timed flailings then Autumn is a rather bounteous time for gathering. Each year we try to expand our use of what's available to us, to both experiment and stock up our larder. Plus it's fun too, to see what can be made. First off, I've already written about blackberry and apple crumbles but you can also use blackberries in jam or jellies. I've never felt that inclined to make bramble jam but that be because I have around 27 different flavours of sweet preserve* in my cupboard and know blackberry would be the last flavour I'd reach for. The success story from last year was the blackberry and crab apple jelly so I definitely wanted to make another year's worth. Crab apples are such a gift, growing in abundance for free and you can take more than you can carry and the tree won't look much less empty. There are loads of different styles of crab apple, most are bogus but apparently you can just pick from the trees you get along better with. I've not been able to differentiate and they all seem fine. 

*Possible exaggeration but I can't be bothered to have another tally up. But there are a lot.

Alongside blackberry and crab apple jelly I made a spiced crab apple jelly. For the first time I made a crab apple and haw jelly. All the jelly recipes allow for dripping the fruit pulp through a muslin and not squeezing (to avoid making it cloudy) and I am perpetually disappointed by how few drops migrate into the bowl below. Pitiful. Suggest unless you are showing it or have rude recipients in mind for it then do as you like and get it in a headlock to get more juice out. Or just brace yourself for disappointment earlier on. 
What do they all taste like? Sweet and delicious. I like mine with chicken but it'd be lovely on toast too so very versatile. 
As there are such a lot of crab apples available, C is trying crab apple wine. But as with all country wines, you have to wait, so this time next year maybe I'll be making some more. We are getting more into making country wines. Blackberry, elderberry and a pear one also. I'm sure there are more on the go too but I forget. These are C's fun and I tend only to take part in the first and last stage. Gathering fruit and drinking. The elderberry wine from last year was brilliant, no taste of elderberry but a rather impressive full bodied red wine.  

I usually make rosehip syrup and elderberry syrup but I still have some left over from last time. 
We made damson jam and damson wine, and damson gin a couple of months ago. Damsons are early and you can't let them go to waste or risk rotting. 

The usual infusions are sloe gins or vodkas. This year I am also trying haw vodka and rosehip vodka. I'll let you know how they go. After my initial indifference to my own sloe gin, I retried the batch from 2-3 years ago and can report it has benefitted significantly from maturing in the bottle. 

Crab apple jelly above. 
Of course with any foraging you have to be incredibly careful to ensure you know what you're picking. Many berries are poisonous and some are deadly so it pays to be doubly sure before you start. 

Made anything with foraged food this autumn?

Take care,

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