Summer is a bountiful time of year, when gardeners, especially first time ones like me, get to relish their hard earned produce as it arrives wonderfully fresh and personal on their kitchen table. However, autumn’s fecundity is arguably a much more pleasurable reality, as nature quietly conjures up all manner of freely available, edible delights for anyone who might be interested. I have been reclaiming my origins as hunter-gatherer this month (even forgoing tesco for most of it) by foraging for a variety of chutney, pie and jam ingredients. One would expect this to be impossible in the city, but Edinburgh is full of hidden treasures, should you know where to find them. Anything that can’t be found, i have tried to source through work colleagues in the Borders. Thus i am to be found most Saturdays this month tending an enormous bubbling pot of jam or chutney whilst counting my good fortune that my genetic hard wiring appears to include a strong coding for creating food for free.
Number one on the list is blackberries. Widely available on Blackford Hill, i have gathered up around 3 kilos, with a little bit of help from those with a vested interest in the proceeds! These include blackberry wine, apple and berry crumble, and hedgerow jam. Elderberries can be found everywhere, and make a rich wine (that is, if you like tannin, and are prepared to wait at least 3 years).
This is the first year i have tried making rose-hip syrup, which reputedly is good on pancakes and in cocktails. After my first attempt, i am wondering if it is an acquired taste….
Bramley apples can be transformed into a vast array of hearty fodder. This lot ended up in a few apple pies, the aforementioned hedgerow jam, and sage and apple jelly – verdict on the latter awaited whilst it still contemplates setting.
Still to be sourced this season are sloes, crab apples and plums. Any tips, Edinburgh readers?