Time to get picking!
Yep, as we said earlier throughout this September we'll keep coming back to the themes of community tips and recipes around foraged fruits.
We've picked blackberries in particular as they are easily recognisable and easy to find, therefore a great option for foraging beginner's. Other easy to spot fruits for beginners are apples and pears. The best time to pick these will depend on the variety, just get exploring and see what's local to you. Wapley Bushes where Alex visited earlier today have all 3 so you can grab yourself a free fruity feast!
For some great foraging tips visit last year's post Foraging Fun... Blackberries are super common so you shouldn't have much trouble finding a patch to call your own. They grow on hedgerows, woodlands, along the roadside or maybe even hiding behind the fences to your back garden. We wouldn't recommend picking blackberries that are close to busy roads though, they might look tasty but exhaust fumes won't make them the healthiest of crops.
Blackberries typically are at their peak in late August and early September so make a great late summer treat... Like Alex said in the video the weather brought them on early in a lot of places so go and nab yours before you miss out. We picked our first crop at the end of July!
Check back tomorrow for the first of our blackberry recipes. We'd love to see yours too, so please send them in either by email, facebook or visit the community drop in. Meanwhile, just for the fun of it...
Blackberry myths and legends...
Never pick blackberries after September 29th (Michaelmas Day)! The devil fell from heaven on Michaelmas Day and landed in a blackberry bush. In his anger he exacted his revenge by urinating on it... Yuck.
Blackberries were the downfall of Belleraphon, a Greek hero. He rode Pegasus to Mount Olympus only to be thrown into a bramble bush. He was blinded by the thorns so wandered alone and sightless ever after…
Whether you believe it or not there are some lessons in folklore. Poor wet and cold conditions in October can cause the fruit to spoil and you definitely want to watch out for the prickles when you're blackberrying!
Get picking... Get freezing what you don't use straight away... Enjoy!
Reference: Country File
We had fun last Friday. A few of our chirpy volunteers spent a little time outside Wellesley and Abbotswood Primary schools talking to locals for our yearly community consultation.
This year we may have added a cheeky little incentive, free food! Barbara had been out foraging Abbotswood apples and Nessa had been busy making mini jars of jam from local fruits. The jam went down a treat and we managed to convince a few people to try apple foraging for themselves. So we'll help you out...
Here's the apples...
And here's the jam...
Nessa's Yate Bramble Jam: Nessa used local foraged blackberries and apples for her recipe. Knowing that we were doing a giveaway we bought the jam jars, but there is nothing stopping you recycling the jars you've already got at home. If you do that then all you have to buy is the sugar! Hooray! Nessa used 2 bags of sugar, which made about 5 pounds of jam. By using foraged fruits, and reusing jars that's 5 pounds of jam for a teeny tiny £1.28. What more could you ask for?
Jam can be a great introduction to home preserving as you can tweak this basic recipe to your heart's content...
1 lb granulated sugar
1 lb fruit
Step one: Place the fruit and sugar into a large pan over a low heat. Stir occasionally until all the sugar is dissolved.
Step two: Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 3 - 5 minutes, the jam should start to thicken.
Step three: Remove the jam from the heat. Spoon some of the mixture onto a cold plate. Leave for a few minutes and then push the mixture with a spoon handle or your finger (clean hands please!). If the jam wrinkles, you're good to go. If not, put the jam back on the heat for a minute or two before trying again.
Step four: While the jam is still hot, pour into sterilised jars. Do up the lid while the jam is still hot, the jam will thicken in the jar and the lid should start to create a dip as it cools. This means you can keep it safely in your cupboard for up to 6 months. It could stay there longer but might start to lose flavour. If you don't see the dip in the lid, keep the jam in the fridge and use within a few weeks. What a hardship that would be right?
Anyone hungry? Because it's recipe time!
Apples and blackberries have been particularly abundant in and around Abbotswood this year, so we've been out foraging and made a batch of wild fruit scones to have on Wednesday's Wild Owl TV Garden talk. They were the favourite from the refreshment table with none leftover, so we thought we'd share with you.
The original recipe came from the National Trust Book of Scones, but as recipes so often are, it's been tweaked here and there.
You will need:
Step one: Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon into a mixing bowl. The amount of cinnamon can be pretty flexible depending on your taste, but a teaspoon or two is probably a good place to start. Add the butter and rub in to create the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.
Step two: Peel and dice the apples, add them to the mix and give a quick stir.
Step three: Stir the milk and egg together, before gradually adding to the dry ingredients. Add a little at a time. The mixture should come together to a slightly damp but not sloppy dough. Add a little extra milk if required.
Step four: Add the blackberries and mix until they are evenly spread throughout.
Step five: Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 3cm thick. Stamp out the mixture. A 7cm cutter will give you about 10 scones. You can use whatever size cutter you like, just remember this will affect cooking times.
Step six: Place the scones on a lined baking tray and bake in a 190 degrees C oven for 15 - 20 minutes. Ours took 18 minutes. The cooked scones should be well risen and slightly springy to the touch.
Step seven: Cool slightly, then munch away! Best served warm with lashings of clotted cream... and maybe even a dollop of bramble jam if you fancy.
Chef's top tips...
After several mishaps Alex has learnt a few scone making tricks and she's kindly sharing them with you.
How's the foraging going everyone? There are plenty of apple trees ripe for the picking around Abbotswood. Why not go and grab some then try this cheeky little recipe? It was given to us by Barbara, who was offering samples to guests at last year's Autumn Day. It's wonderfully simple, no complicated cooking involved, all you need is a grater and microwave!
Step 1: Peel and grate the apples. Put the gratings into a microwave safe bowl.
Step 2: Add the sugar and combine. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Step 3: Add lemon juice and cinnamon to taste. Mix well and microwave for another 2 1/2 minutes.
Step 4: Have a sneaky taste! Add extra lemon juice and cinnamon if necessary.
Step 5: Get munching! Cool and store in the fridge or freeze for later.
It tastes great and there's plenty of scrummy things you can do with the sauce. Why not try some of these examples from our community:
Can we get a round of applause for free food? Hooray!! Who would say no to filling your plate for nothing...
Food waste is all over the media at the moment. You know what we're talking about: People throwing away their hard earned cash by not making the most of leftovers and the scraps at the back of the fridge. Supermarkets turning away fruit and vegetables because it's not quite perfect. Produce being left to rot in farmers fields because it's too expensive and time-consuming to harvest everything.
Well, we would like to add wild grown food to that list. Why are we over-spending on produce that we may not even eat, when there is so much sitting in nature's larder just waiting to be utilised. It's free and it's rewarding. Just think about a leisurely ramble in the great outdoors, then coming home and cooking up a fresh, hot apple and blackberry crumble... Yum! You might not even have to go that far, you'll be amazed how much you can find just outside your doorstep. Are you into gardening? Then you'll be familiar with that evil villain the dandelion... Get revenge by tossing it in your lunch time salad...
Come on folks, grab your friends, grab your family and let's get foraging!!!
So that's it, you're ready to go!
And now we need your help! We are aiming to produce a local map to help others like yourself join the forager's lifestyle. Once you've been out exploring and found an abundance of edible treats, tell us so we can spread the word.
Happy foraging everyone!
Our current author is our AAG Committee member Pen Bailey. If you would like to be a guest blogger please do contact us here at AAG