Autumn is my favourite season, a time for walks in the countryside, kicking leaves and foraging. If you live on the edge of a town as we do, there is plenty to be found if you look around.
We pick blackberries and use them to spark up our porridge in the morning, to make jam and to add to crumbles. This year I want to try fruit leather too.
Look at the perimeter of your park and you will be surprised at what you can find. Check the hedgerows and look at the trees as you walk in the countryside.
This year, we have found a vine that has escaped from somebody’s garden. The vine has grown over the fence and through trees. Now there are so many bunches of grapes overhanging the path it looks like a grape tree! We have been picking bunches for about a month now. That is what makes foraging fun, finding the unexpected and the buzz from getting some free food.
In the field near us there are two apple trees. One has very large red apples that are good as cookers but also tasty as a dessert apple. The other is a dessert apple that we haven’t managed to identify. Both are earlier apples than those in our garden so we have been able to gather extra supplies for the freezer. They will make pies and crumbles for Sunday lunch through the winter. We have also been cooking apple puree spiced with cinnamon which we add to cereal in the morning. It is delicious with a spoonful of yogurt.
Another benefit of foraging is that the food you pick is that is usually free of insecticides and fertilisers.
We have just been foraging for the first sloes of the season. After a spell in the freezer, they have been used for this year’s batch of sloe gin which should be ready for Christmas.
What we would like to forage next
If you really know what you are doing, you can forage for mushrooms. We are not confident enough in identifying them to try. I would like to know the local varieties that are safe to eat so I am hoping to spot a local foraging course or walk.
I read an article on the lowimpact.org blog about it being a Mast Year. This is the description for oaks, hazels and other nutting trees when they produce a bumper harvest. Next time we go for a walk, we are hunting the hedgerows to see what the squirrels have left!