Saturday, 7 September 2013

Nature's plentiful harvest

Well, after that cold and miserable start it's been a petty good year for us growers with some bumper crops. My fruit harvest in particular has been excellent and jam making has begun in earnest. Dear old Mother Nature has also been blessed this year with some amazing sights in the woods and hedgerows.

So far I've picked about twelve pounds of brambles and made some rather nice jelly. I prefer to strain out the seeds of these fruit as they stick in the gaps in my teeth and cause great annoyance!

This crab apple has so much fruit the branches are bent right down into the surrounding grass. The apples make a nice addition to home made cider and can also be used to add pectin to other preserves. Talking of preserves I found a jar of cherry and blackcurrant jam that I made in 2010 at the back of the cupboard. It's in perfect condition but I'm not sure how long it'll keep now that I've opened it. Just shows that preserving food really does work.

Other fruits growing in abundance round here are rose-hips, haws, rowan berries, elderberries and sloes, all of which can be used in jellies or jams or in numerous other ways. If anyone is not sure what to pick I'd recommend getting hold of a copy of Richard Mabey's book 'Food for Free'. I've had my copy nearly forty years but I'm pretty sure it's been reprinted many times as it's such a useful reference.

If you do get hold of a copy you could try some of the more esoteric foods such as pickled ash keys or water lily roots. I have to say that neither of the above appeal to me but it's useful to know that they are actually edible. 


  1. I have a copy that I bought a couple of years ago for £3 a great guidebook. We'll be trawling the hedgerows this month for blackberries in particular. It's been a much better year than the last one for growing thankfully!

  2. I have had my copy of that book for about the same length of time as you. Last autumn the hedgerows were a bit of a desert but they are certainly making up for it this year. I have old jam in the back of the cupboard too - I really ought to get rid of it to make way for the new stuff but I haven't the heart when it's still perfectly edible.