Hedge Grove Harvest

Today was a lovely autumn day with sudden short showers, a gentle breeze and glorious sunshine in between. I caught a bad chest infection during the week, so no digging or cutting lawns today but instead, I decided to take some bags and go foraging.

I was amazed at how much food there was growing wild from blackberries to hazelnuts to rosehips. I collected a large bowls’ worth of blackberries which will be lovely for breakfast. There was a load of blackberries a week ago but the last few days of torrential rain has destroyed almost all of the crop. Thats the problem with blackberries, you really need to pick them the moment there is any nice weather or they will be gone in no time. I was hoping to make blackberry jam this year but its not looking very likely now, unless I buy commerial which I’d rather not do.

I gathered up about two bowls worth of rosehips then and decided to try making Rosehip syrup and Rosehip Jelly as rosehips are a great source of vitmin c. The most important thing to remember about rosehips is that the tiny seeds in the centre, whilst not posionious, can cause unpleasent health problems if injested, so to be on the safe side, I topped and tailed and then sliced the hips in half and then spent about TWO HOURS cleaning out the seeds. I then gave them a good wash in a sieve and started off making

Rosehip Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups rose hips
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar

Preparation:

  • Wash rose hips thoroughly. Remove stems and flower remnants.
  • Boil hips and water for 20 minutes in a covered saucepan. Keep a eye on it to make sure the water doesnt boil away.
  • Strain through a jelly bag[ muslin material].I was stuck for muslin so I used material from a clean dust allergy pillow cover which worked perfectly.
  • Return crushed fruit and clear juice to saucepan.
  • After 10/15 minutes, strain again and then pour the clear rosy liquid back into the saucepan. Add sugar. stir well and boil for another five minutes.
  • Refrigerate until used.

This receipe which I adapted from one I found on the net turned out beautiful, the taste is so exotic and the colour is flaxen gold. [photos to follow]I will definately be making this again in the future.

I decided to try my hand at Rosehip jelly, which is made in the same way as Rose Hip Syrup apart from you add pectin and lemon juice. Take a look at this great receipe http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/rose_hip_jelly_and_jam/

My jelly didnt set very well as I didnt have ready made pectin so I melted down two apples [cores and all] with water and used them for pectin. The colour was quite different from the rose hip syrup, a rich rose with a fabulous scent. I have them in jars and will see how it is tomorrow.

I also gathered about a pound of Elderberries [very important to pick the edible glossy black variety, check the books before you do as there is a posionious variety out there] and plan on making Elderberry Jam tomorrow hopefully so will let you know how that works out. Elderberries have apparently five times the amount of flavinoids and antioxidants of blueberries and are considered a superfood which I found out recently, so I shall be definately putting them on the menu from now on!

I was feeling rather tired after all this harvesting but decided to gather up some sloe berries from our blackthorn trees. They are such a gorgeous fruit, almost bluey black and are actually wild plums but too bitter to eat raw. Apparently you should wait to harvest sloes until after the first frost but if you want to harvest them sooner, you simply put them into the freezer for a few days and this helps break down the skin of the fruit for making either Sloe Gin, Sloe Liquer or Sloe Jelly. Use a long umbrella to pull down branches from high above but mind your eyes and hands as blackthorn has very long thorns and a scratch from blackthorn can easily get  infected. However dont let that put you off. just be careful. Dont pick any fruit with holes or tears as birds and insects will have been at these, just take the prefect fruit. I intend going out tomorrow and collecting more Sloes and over the week making Sloe Liquer. It takes a few months to develop so if I do it now, it will be ready in time for christmas! 🙂

I am now utterly exhausted so off to bed but what a fun day I had enjoying the autumn sunshine and gathering in the hedge grove harvest.

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