Dreaming of Autumn

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Like so many amateur foragers I always feel sad when the last of the elderflower have disappeared from the trees, I know there are plenty of plants which, had I the knowledge, I could garner and glean for the larder. But sadly my expertise is limited.

I do however get some comfort, whilst walking with the dog.  I can see exciting foraging prospects for the end of summer and the beginning of Autumn.

By far and away the best,  most widely available fruit to forage is the Blackberry.  It's light pink blossom is so pretty, but as it falls to the ground it is possible to see the beginnings of the fruit on the prickly Bramble bushes.

If you have never foraged then Blackberries are the best place to start, they are found just about everywhere, and as long as you don't pick from the side of the road or other polluted area, they are a great thing to have.

Delicious eaten straight from the bush, they are both juicy and sharp.  You don't need to be a prolific jam maker to enjoy them either.  One of the best and easiest ways to cook them is to add them to some Bramley cooking apples in a crunchy topped crumble, you only need a handful.  They also freeze well, just spread them on a tray, and once frozen pop them in a zip lock bag.  What a fabulous treat, your own foraged blackberries ready to cheer up a miserable winter's day!

I know next to nothing about wild mushrooms, and I intend to go on a mushroom course, if I can find one, in the Autumn.  I have however successfully picked several Puffball mushrooms, they are so distinctive that there is no concern about mistaking them for any thing else!  About the size of a small football, they are best cooked simply and used quickly, they don't have a hugely wild muhroomy taste, but visually they are so appealing.  I just slice them and cook them in oil or butter with a few herbs and serve with some scrambled egg.

If you know where to look there are plenty of fruit trees, which will be laden with apples, pears and plums.  Wild fruit tends to be smaller and often needs cooking.  They are easy to harvest, and how wonderful to have a stock of jellys to eat with meals (have a quick look at Sarah's recipes for some inspiration), as well as some very impressive gifts. I find people adore home made jams and jellys, they really appreciate the time and work that goes into them.

If you have children it's worth noting where the "Conker" and "Helicopter" trees are. Chestnuts and Sycamore Trees can produce hours of entertainment, and we always try to walk past one or the other once they are ready!

What do you gather when you are out walking?  If you've never foraged now is the time to start looking out for likely bushes and trees, and reading up on some recipes, so you can plan a new hobby for the Autumn.

Thanks for reading,