This year is a bumper year for hedgerow fruits, boughs are almost breaking with the weight of shiny berries owing to the combined effect of a late spring and glorious summer.
So in tribute to the vintage hedgerow harvest here are some of our favourite ways with foraged fruit.
Bramble vodka is one of the most delicious tipples and probably the easiest of all to make. It is home-made heaven in a small liquer glass, and fizzy fun drizzled into prosecco.
Make now and decant into vintage bottles to give as gifts at Christmas.
350g soft, ripe brambles
350g granulated sugar
1.5l mid-range vodka
Pick over your brambles removing any leaves and stalks. Pour into a glass jar, or container large enough to hold all the ingredients. Cover with the sugar and, mix to coat the fruit thoroughly. Pour in all the vodka and shake to combine. Store somewhere cool and dark. Shake, once a day for the first fortnight and then whenever you remember. Leave for two – three months. Strain and decant into glass bottles.
Rosemary and Rowan Jelly
As a child rowan jelly was just about my favourite food, we had it with all sorts of roast meats but I could have eaten it from the jar like ice cream. Adding a touch of rosemary gives the jelly a slightly more grown up appeal. Absolutely perfect with venison.
1kg, rowan berries
Juice of 2 lemons
500g jam sugar per 500ml juice
2 small sprigs of rosemary
Wash and pick over the berries removing any stalks and leaves. Pour into a broad pan and add the water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the berries are soft and pulpy, about 20-30 minutes.
Heft the fruit into a muslin cloth, or jelly bag and leave to strain overnight, or for at least 4 hours. Retain the strained juice. For every 500ml of juice add about 450 -500g of jam sugar (with added pectin), the lemon juice and the rosemary. Simmer for around 20 minutes, or until the jelly has set. Test for setting point by spooning a teaspoonful of jelly mix onto a cooled saucer. Leave for a few minutes, press with a fingertip and if the skin wrinkles then setting point has been reached.
Remove the rosemary and pour into warm sterilised jars.
This is a recipe for all those die hard hedgerow foragers who think they’ve done everything there is to do with their free harvest. It comes from Pam Corbin, Hugh Fearlessly Eats It All’s River Cottage chum and it’s a dipping sauce, come ketchup, stir-fry friendly condiment to be used willy nilly wherever you please. So good with sweet little crab cakes.
Makes one 330ml bottle.
500g haw berries
300ml cider vinegar
170g granulated sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wash and pick over the haws removing any stalks and leaves. Put them in a pan with the vinegar and 300ml water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, by which time the berries will have turned a dull brown and their skins will have split to reveal their yellow flesh. A bit like popping cranberries.
Tip into a sieve over a clean pan and rub the fruit through with a wooden spoon, leaving the skins and pips behind. Add the sugar to the purée in the pan and heat gently, stirring, until it dissolves. Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes, stirring often to ensure it doesn’t catch. Funnel the hot sauce into a hot, clean bottle and seal straight away.
This sauce improves with age, so ideally leave it for a few weeks before opening. Use within a year and refrigerate once open.
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