It's the perfect time of year to forage sweet, wild blackblackberries
PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 September 2017
Last week I wrote about samphire on Suffolk's only island, Havergate. It got me thinking about the abundance of free foods that can be foraged, particularly at this time of year, writes Sheena Grant.
When I was a child, my dad used to take us to harvest mushrooms.
He knew what he was looking for, skills no doubt learned growing up in rural Ireland, but I always steer clear of mushrooms.
You have to know your stuff. Getting it wrong could be disastrous.
That said, there are many other things that can be foraged safely.
The most readily available and easiest to identify of the lot must be blackberries. We used to pick these as children too.
Many supermarkets sell them nowadays as well, usually imported from the other side of the world and far too ‘farmed’ to have any of the charm of our free, wild fruits.
Blackberries are not just nuggets of sweet, juicy taste, they’re also high in vitamin C, fibre and may, apparently, boost brain health - something getting out to pick them will certainly do anyway.
I’ve harvested a tub-full from the same place I go every year and will go back for more, which I’ll freeze to help get me through the dark days of winter.
There’s another reason I always put blackberries top of my autumn foraging list: they make the perfect pairing with apples harvested from my garden. An apple crumble is always tasty, but a blackberry and apple crumble is something else.
It’s a race against time to use the apples before they become spongy and yellow.
I usually make chutney and this year am going to experiment with cutting up and freezing some too.
I’ve also got another method to try, given to me by Lotte Sherman.
Lotte’s method, from Germany, involves removing worms and brown bits from the apple, leaving the skin on, cutting into chunks and boiling in minimal water until the apple is soft enough to push through a fine sieve.
“It takes a little effort and time to squeeze through but the natural, sweet puree is a satisfying reward,” says Lotte.
“If I make a large amount, I freeze some. The puree is excellent for children - no sugar is added. Our great-granddaughter loves it.”
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