What glorious times lie ahead for anyone interested in foraging in the coming months. This is the season when nature is most productive. The season as Keats said of “mellow fruitfullness”. Our ditches, hedges, banks and verges are laden with berries and fruits of different types and the forest floor is filled with fungi.
Lets take a look at some of the high flyers of the season.
First we have the big, fat purple sloes, just waiting to be picked to make sloe gin .Sloes are the fruit of the Blackthorn and in the coming weeks will be lovely and ripe for picking.
Sloe Gin makes a perfect present for Christmas.
There are plenty of Rose Hips out now and you can make Rose Hip Syrup or Rose Hip Wine. Rose Hips are a great source of vitamin C. They have a slightly acid taste with a hint of sweetness.Rose Hips during the war were often made into a tonic for children because of the lack of fresh fruit.
Next of my favourites is the Bilberry or Fraughan. This is a lover of acid soils and of the high bogs. Plenty of them in the upland areas of the Blackstairs. They provide the forager with a vitamin rich fruit. They have a lovely purple bloom and on long walks in the hills can quench your thirst. They can be eaten raw or cooked and make a wonderful Bilberry Pie.
One of the most easily recognised of all our berries is the Rowan or Mountain Ash. A glorious sight on the hills and in the vallies with it’s striking scarlet berries which are such an attraction for our wild birds and us foragers. High in vitamin C ,the berries can be made into a jelly which goes well with game meats. You can also make a pretty decent Rowan wine but you need to leave it mature for at least six months!
Of course there are the marvellous Elderberries which make a lovely fruit crumble, blackberries for your muesli or jam or jelly; there is also the most attractive Guelder Rose berries for jelly and finally not to forget those lovely crab apples. There is a fantastic crop of them this year. Definitely Crab Apple jelly on the way for my Ecotrailers. Let’s go walking!