I did a Wild Food Walk with secondary school kids today – one of them tasted a blackberry for the first time in his whole life!! We wandered around Walton Dam and found plenty of thinks to give them to taste, besides the blackberries were elderberries, wild apples, and sorrel. We also pointed out hazel trees, hawthorne and rowan, as well as other berries which are not edible.
There was also the inevitable talk of duck, goose, pigeon, swan (can’t eat that it belongs to the Queen) and other tasty morsels – kids eh?!
And what a fantastic year it is this year for stone fruits – damsons, bullaces, greengages, plums, and even the French mirabelle (for more information on this european invader see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirabelle) have all been picked in North Derbyshire this year
What to do with sloes apart from Sloe Gin I was asked – well, like my friend Hilary you could try freezing and then mistaking them for blueberries when making muffins! Steph, my wild food partner, used some to make her hedgerow jam, or you could try the following:
Wild Kissel with Sloes
1/2 pint sloes
1/2 pint blackberries
1 pint elderberries
1 pint water
3/4 lb sugar
1 lev tablespoon arrowroot
3 – 4 tablespoon red wine
wash the fruit and remove stems and stalks. Put fruit into pan with water and suagr. Bring to boil slowley and stir until sugar is dissolved. Cover and simmer gently for 10-15 mins. Pour into basin and stand until cold.
Strain juice from fruits into clean pan, add pared orange peel and red wine and bring slowly back to boil. If wished remove stones from stewed fruit. Squeeze orange and mix juice with arrowroot. Add this to mixed fruit juice and stir until thickens and clears. Remove from heat, remove orange peel and add in stewed fruit and pour into serving dish. Serve when cool, but not chilled.
So many good things to make with elderberries – they can always be used in addition to blackberries or with apples in almost anything – for something a bit different try this Elderberry Marmalade
A dozen or so crab apples washed and quartered, placed in a pan with a inch or so water in the bottom should be cooked until soft.
Add to this the 1 1/2 lb elderberries, the juice of 2 limes and 3 oranges.
Remove the pitch from the rinds and mince the rind finely or whizz them in a food processor. Add the rind and 5 cups of sugar to the fruit mixture.
Bring to boil and simmer for approx 1 hr until it will set.
Pour into warm sterilised jars and seal.
Its very gratifying that something so prolfic and so easily recognisable is edible. However, even the plumpest hawthorn berries cannot be eaten raw (that is to say – you could eat them – but they would give you little pleasure if you did!).
But Hawthorn chutney – now there’s a thing!
2 lb hawthorn berries
1 pint cider vinegar
1/4 lb dried fruit of choice – what’s in your cupboard??
3/4 lb sugar (brown is best)
1 tsp each salt, ginger and nutmeg
1/4 tsp each ground cloves and allspice
Use scissors to remove berry stalks, put in a pan with the cider and salt and bring to the boil, simmer for 1 hr.
Rub through a sieve into a clean pan, add the remainder of the ingedients and ince more bring to the boil, stirring continuously.
Simmer, uncovered for 15-20 mins until thick, pour into warm, sterilised jars and seal.