The weather this week in the North-East has been unsettled. It has been cold and windy and we have had some heavy showers. The season is definitely changing. However, early September offered some warm and sunny days, which ripened the fruit on the blackberry bushes…
… and the elder trees.
There are some great walks in the area around my home in County Durham and several times this month, I took a plastic bag with me, to scoop up some of this bounty. In the photo below, are two bags full of juicy blackberries.
The blackberries this year are particularly large and lush. I’ve picked and frozen enough now to have blackberry and apple for dessert several times through the winter, when we’ll really need the vitamin C – and the great flavour.
As for the elderberries, I use them to make elderberry syrup – as suggested a year ago by my friend Aimee, who drew my attention to the fact that they have very high levels of vitamin C, and that they are thought to have strongly anti-viral properties.
I took a spoonful of syrup every day all through last winter. The syrup also tastes very good on porridge in the mornings!
On one of our walks we found a tree laden with small wild apples and I combined this harvest with rosehips growing beside the Railway Paths near my house (I have written about these paths before here).
Rosehips also contain high levels of vitamin C, though you have to work for it! They are not easy to pick and they need to be simmered for a good length of time (see below) to break down the fibres in the rosehip. These rosehips and apples together made a beautiful, clear pale orange jelly which has a delicious, subtle flavour.
Finally, I added sloes to my autumn pickings:
There aren’t many on the trees, but I hope with further foraging expeditions, there might be enough to make some sloe gin now, so that it will be ready in time for a toast at Christmas!
I grew up in the countryside and making things from wild fruits was part of my childhood and teenage years. It’s very satisfying to make something that only involves the time taken to do the gathering and cooking and the cost of the sugar. It’s good to feel a small preparation has been made, to prepare for what may be a hard winter.
I haven’t included any recipes here, because this is a textiles website after all, but they can be found fairly easily online. And as this is a textiles blog, I will share with you my autumn-y fabric design, ‘Blackberries’
Tomorrow (Tuesday 29 September) this advertisement will be the Metro newspaper in the North-East, featuring my paintings and quilts. See, this is a textiles blog after all!