Out For A Walk? Remember to take something with you to bring home a haul of amazing fruits from the hedgerows.
We've all been getting out recently and with a bit of extra time on our hands, why not make some amazing wines for pretty much free, using the fruits found foraging.
The awesome spring weather followed by the moist summer and now the heat of the last week has really brought on the hedgerows. And now the rain will help swell the fruit too.
This should be an epic foraging season.
Hawscome from the Hawthorne tree. They start ripening mid to late August and are best picked when very red. It's a small fruit, about the size of your little fingernail, and in the middle is a pip surrounded by a small amount of flesh. This means you need quite a few, but the hedgerows are filled with them. Great for Haw Wine, or a Vodka infusion, also great with quince in a jelly.
Sloes (Davin's favourite) come from the Blackthorn. Care should be taken when picking as those spikes give a nasty reaction if you get pricked. Get pricked in the knuckle and it will hurt for weeks. Great for wine, sloe gin, sloe vodka. They look like small plums. Go on, pop one in and try it. I doubt you'll want another - haha. Pick just after the first frost as they tend to be a little less harsh and juicier. No frost, then pick when they are ripe. Use the leaves to add extra almond flavours.
Hips are the seed pods of the rose. Lots of roses grow wild in the hedgerows, or you can just use the hips from the roses in your garden. Don't be tempted to try one. Inside are lots of hairlike strands and trust me, your belly will not like you if you eat one. Best to pick after a frost, but as with sloes, just pick when ripe. Great for Hip Wine, a Vodka infusion, a jam or a syrup to add to lemonade. Just remember not to break open the fruit.
Elderberries are the fruit of the Elder tree. You may have already used some flowers to make some Elderflower wine. Remember to not use any other part of the Elder as it is poisonous. Small, almost black, bombs of purple juice. Take a pair of secateurs and chop off the bunch of berries. Then when back in the kitchen, use a fork to get them off the stalk. A really rich wine can be made, similar to that of a French Burgundy.
Blackberries the fruit of the Bramble. A vicious adversary that will scratch and grab hold of you. It's thorns point backwards and it uses these to climb. To unlock yourself stop pulling and push forward. There are over 300 different varieties, so if you have small fruit, look for another patch. Great in puddings Apple and Blackberry Crumble is awesome! An amazing wine. vodka infusion, jam or made into a syrup it will rival Ribina!
Pick what you know! Dont be tempted by amazing looking berries! Just because it looks good enough to eat, does not mean it's good for you! Just because you see a bird eating it, does not mean you can! These are just 5 of the most easily obtained berries around Somerset, there are lots more including Rowan, Guelder Rose, Crab Apple and Sea Buckthorn and Wild Strawberry. You may even find a Damson, Greengage, Apple, or a Pear tree growing wild.
There are some awesome fruits out there, but some are poisonous! So, before you go picking anything, be sure you know what it is.