I absolutely love the turn of the season when the hedgerows start to go wild and there is fruit everywhere. Not just blackberries but sloes, elderberries, hawthorn, rosehips and crab apples, amongst other things. I spend a lot of my time trying to spot fruit and wondering what exactly I can do with it if I manage to pick it. The possibilities are endless: it’s just time and effort that are limited! This year the blackberries were very early where I live and I didn’t realise they would finish so quickly: I haven’t picked nearly enough. I think I have missed the elderberries and have never managed to actually make anything with hawthorn berries or rosehips. So far I have only made a couple of bottles of sloe gin but am hoping to find more. Luckily there is still quite a stock of sloe gin from last year. I had scouted out some great crab apples but then time has run away with me again. The house is still not entirely unpacked and as for the blog…
Plums have to be the most exciting fruit to find wild. I have no idea why it makes me so happy! A few years ago I found a plum tree in the middle of a field near my brother’s house. I spent the evening checking online to make sure it really was a plum tree as it seemed too good to be true. I decided to go back the next day to have a go at picking it and discovered that a windy night had shaken out the tree and all the fruit was on the ground. It couldn’t have been better timed. I made so much plum jam that year all my friends must have had a pot or two. Although I haven’t managed to find any plums myself this year my friends know me well and look out for wild fruit too. This year my friend Vana found yellow plums known as bullaces and brought me a few kilos to turn into jam:
Bullaces are quite small so they are a lot of work to cut up to remove the stones. If you don’t want to do that you can just heat the plums and pick out the stones as they start to cook. There were so many plums I chose to do it that way.
I haven’t found a stone in the jam yet and am hoping that no one else will either… I weighed the fruit and then added the same weight of sugar, along with the juice of a lemon, to turn it into jam.
So imagine how happy I was to get some damsons as well this year: the wonderful person who picked them for me had thought they were sloes as they were in the same place: in fact they looked exactly like large sloes. The only giveaway was the fact that they were soft and in my experience sloes are always very hard. A quick taster confirmed that they were plums: I’ve yet to try a sloe and don’t intend to!
There weren’t many and they were very small – that’s a side plate they are on – but I managed to turn them into a pot of jam for the person who picked them with a little bit extra for me. They are so tasty and the jam is such a beautiful colour: the photo doesn’t do it justice. I will be on the lookout for that damson tree next year!
Homemade jam makes a great gift and if you have picked the fruit yourself it is even more special. And if your friends pick the fruit and you can turn it into jam for them, everyone is a winner!