A long overdue forage all of 400yards from my house has made me feel very blessed indeed.
I went with my partner with the intention of finding a few elderberries with which to make delicious cold -busting syrup (more of which anon) - maybe a few stray blackberries if we were lucky and this is what we gathered, leaving plenty for the birds and other wildlife who make the place home.
Some Rose hips - I'll show you what they became and how later
An abundance of Elderberries
and right at the end of our walk we found the most wonderful secret stash of lovely sloes ready for picking
They went straight into the freezer - all the better to yield their juices when payday comes and I can buy the necessary bottle of gin.
A generous harvest I'm sure you'll agree. So what did I do with all this stuff?
The Blackberries were easy - I filled a jar with the squashier ones, topped it up with cider vinegar, covered with a vinegar proof lid and labelled. In six weeks time I will have the most beautiful tasting vinegar which will be fabulous in a salad dressing or equally good spooned into a cupful of hot water and drunk to fend off colds. The rest were instantly combined with some windfall apples given by my neighbour and made into a delicious crumble which is always a joy.
The Elderberries were painstakingly de- stalked - I use a fork to do this.
There was enough to make a good few bottles of syrup - invaluable for sore throats and colds too. Either taken by the delicious spoonful or combined with just boiled water and sipped as a drink that beats those powdered over sweet cold & flu sachets by a mile.
John Gallagher from http://www.learningherbs.com/ and Mountain Rose Herbs showed me how http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOYzWyFGkqM
The kitchen smelled divine by now.
As for the Hawthorns I tinctured some of them in high proof Vodka to make a wonderful heart tonic and a quick search for Hugh Fearnely -Whittingstall's Haw-Sin sauce recipe which, when my sister said, when she popped in to say hello, "Makes the kitchen smell like posh ketchup!" The quantity in the recipe didn't yield much but what I did get bottled was very tasty indeed.
The rose hips became rose hip syrup with the aid of another useful and entertaining video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJr-mgLELrE
Good old rose hip syrup. Packed with Vitamin C and, as certain generations of British school children will tell you, the only thing that made school Rice and Semolina puddings edible. Incidentally the darker bottles seen in this picture are filled with Elderberry syrup. If you've never made it I would say give it a go. it works as well with dried berries if you can't find fresh.