I’ve been foraging throughout the year, ever since the wild garlic pushed its way through the river bank but now things are really in earnest and it’s not yet autumn. There is a cornucopia of wild fruit to be had if you know where to look.
Now foraging can take up all morning or all day – I am still psyching myself up to go out on the moors to pick bilberries, a hot, sweaty, midgey business – but I’m a great believer in the Forty Minute Forage, just going for it whenever you see a likely site. For that reason, I always carry a bag or a box on my person or in the boot of my car.
I was anxious to gauge the state of the local plums and damsons and to see whether the first blackberries have arrived so headed off to my favourite spot, a rural idyll in the heart of the city. The plums and damsons still need a week to ripen but that didn’t stop me picking a few anyway.
The first blackberries are already ripening and I managed to collect a couple of handfuls. And I found a tree with small but lovely, sweetish apples. By now my box was filling up rapidly and I had to go back to the car to get another.
I found just the odd blackcurrant and all the cherries were gone (this was not Attercliffe) but I got a bonus in finding some cobnuts. They would go in a salad, the fruit in a pie*. I picked a couple of sprays of rowan to add a little colour. Later on I will be picking them in earnest for rowan jelly, great with meat or in gravies.
On my home, in the General Cemetery off Ecclesall Road, I found a few more blackberries and some sloes from a bush I hadn’t noticed before. They will be frozen until I have enough for a sloe gin. All in all, not a bad reward for 40 minutes or so. And for free.
*I cooked the damsons first and sieved out the stones, The apples were finely sliced and mixed with the blackberries. Adding rowans to a pie is perhaps not a great idea! Most of the sugar for the pie was from those little packets foraged in coffee shops.
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