I was at a meeting the other evening and had to pop out to take a phone call. As I wondered about outside in the ‘garden’ of the hall where the meeting was being held I was delighted to find a couple of wild (or stray) raspberries bushes full of fruit. I picked them and shared them when the call was over.
Wild raspberry bushes are all over, on country lanes and also in hedges in urban areas, the sort of places where you would find blackberry brambles. Easy to identify once they are in fruit, they can be hidden by now by tall nettles or cow parsley, so best to identify their location earlier on.
They won’t be the huge perfect raspberries that you buy in the shops, but they will taste amazing! My best summer fruit recipe is both easy and impressive. Whisk 1/2 pint double cream and gradually add 5 oz caster sugar until cream is standing in peaks (but has not tunred to butter!). Chuck in about 1lb raspberries (or as many as you have)an fold them in – save any really good looking ones for decoration. Serve in your prettiest bowl (or individual dishes – this receipe will do 6 servings).
If you have done much Middle Eastern cooking you may come across the spice mix ‘ras al hanout’. Its base is dried rose petals and this is how to make it.
Take a large handful of wild rose petals and dry them (over a couple of days in the airing cupboard, or overnight by the side of an ember fire). Make sure they are completely dry (but not cooked!).
Into a large dry pan, put 2 broken cinnamon sticks, 1 tsp cloves, 1tblsp coriander seed, 1 tblsp fennel seed, 1 tblsp mustard seed, 12 cardamon pods, 3 star anise 1tsp ground alspice, 1tsp black peppercorns. Heat gently until seeds start to pop, tossing gently to avoid burning. When cool grind in a pestle and mortar and mix with the rose petals. It will keep for a couple of months, but best used in that time.
Everywhere, in every hedgerow the elder is coming into bloom, bury your nose into the flowers and take in the sweet and heady scent! The internet abounds with receipes for elderflower cordial and elderflower champagne (and do have a go at those) but why not give this a try as well…
Gooseberry and Elderflower Preserve (taken fromthe ever resourceful Richard Mabey’s ‘Food for Free’)
Have 4 flower heads with as little stalk as possible to each 1lb of gooseberries. Put the fruit in a preserving pan with 1 pint of water for every 1lb fruit and simmer for half an hour, mashing the fruit to a pulp as you go along. Add 1 lb sugar to every 1lb fruit, stir until dissolved and then bring to the boil. Tie the elderflowers in muslin and add the whole lot, boil until setting point is reached (for more info on the specifics of jam check out http://www.make-jam.co.uk). Remove the bag of flowers and pour into jars as usual. ‘The flavour is quite transformed…and is reminiscent of muscat grapes’.
Can’t be bad!