Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A roving a roving a roving I'll go....

Note. Blogger keeps eating my tables, pictures, and formatting. For the moment, I give up. Pictures are missing, spaces magically appear, and my sanity patience and teeth are cracking under the strain of it all. I'll sort it out later.

Unknown mushroomUnknown mushroom
Blackberry puree
Unknown mushroom
Guilder berries
Unknown MushroomRosehipsSloes

Above, the uncertain results of a weekends worth of foraging in the great Northwest. Pictured, several uncertain varieties of mushroom, as well as Haws, Guilder berries, Junipers. Blackberry puree, Sloe berries and Rosehips.

The Blackberries got made into sugar free jam, recipe courtesy of the Gorgeous C.


925g of blackberries

285g of honey

Juice of half a lemon

3 heaped teaspoons of agar agar

1 1/2 apples, peeled and chopped up.

Method. Pick through your blackberries, discarding any that are rotten. Add the chopped apples. Puree them, and add the honey. Separately, juice the lemon, and add the agar agar to it, an mix. Reserve.

Heat the blackberries, stirring enthusiastically and constantly. Have some in the background to critique your stirring technique almost as enthusiastically. Allow to boil. The stirring is important as it guarantees an even boil, so all the mix pasteurises. Add the agar agar mix, and stir, returning to the boil. Immediately, pour into sterilised jars - to sterilise jars, boil them in water, and remove them just before jarring, allow to dry off, and use.

Lid the jars tightly, and turn them upside down. Let the jars cool. Keep them at below 7 degrees celsius, and use within ten days of opening.

It tastes fantastic, missing that heavily artificial sugar taste I'm used to. This acually tastes primarily of fruit. The jam we got was quite runny, so perhaps more agar agar next time.

The weekends foraging was interesting. The chestnits I posted about last time are almost ready, browning on the trees. Apparently, the last week in September is the best time to harvest. They are not quite ripe - but will ripen in the bowl - and the squirrels haven't finished off the crop.

For Rosehips, (centre, 3rd row) late September is good for picking, after the first frost. Typically hips are made into syrup, normally using 1 to 1 gugar and hips, and the syrup is used on desserts, and as a basis for juice. Choc full of Vitamin C. This year, however, there are too few Rosehips on the bushes to make picking worthwhile. A standard syrup recipe can be found here.

For Haws(2nd row, 3rd picture). Well. Amongst the most bounteous of hedgerow fruits, apparently, normally they are made into syrup or jelly. This recipe will have to wait. It's in a book Leitrimwards. Suffice to say it's of the quince jelly type, served after dinner with cheese. As a filler, HFW has a recipe in the Guardian, good for Rowan, Elder and Hips too.

Ditto Guilder berries (2nd row, centre).

Finally, sloes, (3rd row, 3rd picture). Sloe gin or sloe wine. These should be harvested in October/November, again, best after the first frost. Sloes are the driest tasting fruit on the face of the earth. Even thinking of eating one makes my mouth contort in fur covered memory.

More to follow as and when. I'd be curious about harvesting haws, as there are so many. And I'm especially curious about this, another HFW special from those good people at River Cottage. Blackvberry flavoured whiskey. A fine thing.

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