Foraging for Goodies

We are stepping into prime foraging time! So many delicious goodies to be had. So its no surprise we’ve been out and about to see what is ripe.

We went for a stroll down the canal where Tony knew there was plum trees. We found plums last time we were there, and had spotted Damsons that weren’t quite ripe. When we got there this time, they were ready for picking.

I knew I wanted to make Damson jam before we even collected the Damsons….. and Oh My God!!! it was not disappointing! Might be my new favourite jam, and I love most jam’s.

Ingredients

  • 1kg Damsons
  • 300ml water
  • 1.3 kg Sugar (I used a mix or granulated and brown sugar)
  • 6g Pectin (optional)

Method

  • Put all ingredients except the pectin in a large pan. The bigger the better as it tends to boil up high, before dying back.
  • Boil the mixture so the liquid reduces and allow to simmer.
  • Once the stones start floating use a slotted spoon to take out all the stones.
  • Place a small plate in the freezer, prior to cooking, so that you can put a teaspoon on the plate to test the setting point of the jam.
  • Once it is nearly ready, sprinkle and stir the pectin in.
  • Pour the jam into sterilized jars, fasten the lids on and leave to cool.

This jam is well worth making, and I think it might be a must to make some sultana scones specially to eat it with.

Today I went for a stroll locally not far from the house and had in my mind that I wanted to look for elderberries. With the colder weather not far away, I wanted a go at making a homemade cold remedy/vitamin booster. As I was collecting the elderberries, I noticed how disappointing the blackberries seem to be this year. But I did find a couple of areas with a few decent ones, so I picked what I could. I also found some apple trees. I initially thought they were crab apples but when I chopped them up and tasted them, they tasted like tiny granny smiths. So with all my goodies I headed home for an afternoon in the kitchen.

So now I just had to decide what to make, so first I tackled the elderberries. I decided to make a syrup that could be used to add to a hot drink, or take a spoonful as and when needed. There are so many health benefits to elderberries, they are full of Vit A & C and antioxidants, they may boost your immune system, but they do not taste great. So you need to add sugar!

I painstakingly took all the tiny berries of the stalk, immersed them all in water just for a few minutes to make sure any bugs or dirt are removed, then drained it. I had about 460g of elderberries once all the stalks were off.

Putting them in a pan I added about 600ml water, 60 ml lemon juice and to sweeten it to make the syrup, I decided to go with honey. Honey being wonderfully soothing when you are feeling under the weather, I thought these would be a good pairing.

I didn’t measure out the honey, I added about 100 ml initially and added more to taste, in the end it was probably closer to 200ml, and a little demerara sugar. But start small and you can add more, add to much and you can’t take it away.

I let this mixture boil up, then reduced to a simmer for about 30 min. I stirred it occasionally and mashed up the berries with a potato masher.

Once it was done, I used a sieve and strained the syrup, using the potato masher in the sieve to get every drop from the berries. Then I bottled it up ready for when we need a boost.

So all that was left were the blackberries and apples. Jam was out the window, as we now have at least a million jars of various different jams. So I thought that I would give fruit leather a go.

It called for

  • 500g Blackberries
  • 500g Apples
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • About 150g honey but add to taste – (I doubled this as my fruit was very tart!!)
  • Pre-heat the oven ti 70degC

Unfortunately I was short of about 300g of blackberries, but I had some frozen fruit in the freezer, blackberries and rasberries, so I made it up with those. I peeled and chopped the apples and had just enough with the ones I’d foraged. (Tip: chop the apples into really small pieces)

I added all ingredients except the honey into a pan and simmered it for about 30 min until it is a thick pulp.

using a sieve and a wooden spoon, pour the pulp into the sieve over a bowl, using the wooden spoon to push the puree through, and a separate spoon, to scrape the thick puree from under the sieve.

Once you have a bowl of fruit puree, add the honey and stir it all together. Taste as you add and make it as sweet as you need need.

Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment and spread out the mixture, place in the oven for 8-10 hours (yep its a long process).

I am so happy with how it turned out. It tastes great and it is so satisfying to peel it off from the baking paper.

So I’ve had a bit of fun today and I will probably be out to get more damsons at some point to make some damson gin. 😋

Until next time, happy foraging.

Kiera and Tony

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