Autumn’s bounty of sloes and blackberries is a seasonal delight for fruit pickers in Suffolk

Where have you been to pick sloes and blackberries this autumn?

Where have you been to pick sloes and blackberries this autumn? - Credit: Archant

There are not many things I like about autumn, heralding, as it does, the inexorable advance of winter.

Every day of sunshine at this time of year is a bonus but the warmth has a kind of fragility to it, as if to remind us that we are living on time borrowed from the cold, dark, wind and rain that is to come.

But let’s not go there before we really have to. The proximity of winter may be unwelcome but it cannot rob autumn of the one thing I love it for: an abundance of hedgerow fruits.

There are sloes, rosehips and bullace but what I’m really talking about is the king of autumn hedgerow fruits: the blackberry. Each one is a nugget of sweet pleasure but foraging for wild blackberries is, for me, about so much more than well, foraging for wild blackberries.

It is a link to generations past and to my own childhood; picking blackberries with my family and returning home with ruby fingertips - and lips - from squished, over-ripe fruit.

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Even now, on each annual blackberry expedition my mind goes back to when I was about 12 and foraging for fruits with my dad in a field full of young cows. Every time they ventured too close dad would turn and stamp his foot on the ground, making the cows scatter. Thinking it looked like fun, I tried the same thing - but instead of retreating one cow kicked its legs in the air, lowered its head and ran towards me, causing me to flee and launch myself head first over gate.

When I suggested a foraging trip this year, my son was not impressed. But once there he discovered that quite aside from picking fruits (and listening to my blackberrying stories of yesteryear), there was plenty to occupy him in the playground that is the countryside. There were gates to climb, bits of metal poking up from the soil that demanded excavation, paths to explore.

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For me, as my plastic container slowly fills with tiny fruits, it’s always a time of quiet contemplation. These days, I forage close to the sea and can hear the waves crashing onto the beach in the distance, which adds to a feeling of calm renewal.

The blackberries are now safely stored in my freezer for eating well into winter, when a burst of autumn flavour will serve as a reminder of all that has gone as well as a promise of all that is to come.

Email Sheena or tweet using #ThriftyLiving.

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