bunn: (Berries)
A day as grey as granite today, but at least it stopped raining for a while.

windyhillside1.jpg

Read more... )In other news, I finally got around to jellifying the rowan berries and crabapples I picked well over a month ago.  I had too many crabapples and not quite enough rowan berries for the first recipe I selected randomly from the internet, and also I could not quite get all the rowan berries into the only pot available, so the jelly may be a bit more crabapply and less rowany than planned, but oh well.

The rowan berries that would not go into the pot, I've tried crystallising in honey. They do have quite a strong flavour, but it's quite pleasant.  I think will be nice to have a few with cheese. 

September

Sep. 10th, 2015 11:46 am
bunn: (Berries)
It's that time of year when suddenly the disappointment of August rain, damp heat and biting flies clears away, the air is comfortably cool and pleasant and the sun shines.  I had blackberries and hazelnuts for breakfast on our morning walk.   I don't think the nuts are going to hold out much longer, but the blackberries are particularly generous this year.

When we walk past the pigs, I always pick a handful of blackberries for them, although getting a berry to an individual pig is somewhat hit and miss.  Pigs seem to have appalling eyesight and are not as good as I'd thought they might be at finding small items of food by scent, either, though they become very excited and run about squeaking delightedly. I'm not sure if this is in the nature of all pigs, or if perhaps these particular pigs are of a commercial variety where ability to scent food and see has been bred out in favour of swifter growth.

I didn't manage to pick enough whortleberries this year to make whortleberry jelly, mostly due to the need to travel fast and light across country in order to adequately watch what Rosie is getting up to.  I just grabbed handfuls in passing and ate them there and then.   But I have picked some crabapples and rowan berries, which are currently in the freezer.   Rowan definitely needs freezing before you jelly it, or the flavour becomes overwhelming. It's a good year for apples, here. 
bunn: (Berries)
On Saturday, I chopped an unfeasible quantity of ginger, and made four large pots of ginger and crabapple jam.

I still had a remarkable amount of chopped ginger and crabapple juice left on Sunday, but no jam sugar, so I bought lemons and sugar at the shop.  Then I found the fig tree had put forth a sudden late-summer-sun inspired profusion of figs, so I chopped them and flung them in as well.

This - or perhaps the lack of jam sugar, or not enough lemons - may have been a mistake.  It took about two hours of bubbling before the jam would consent to set.  But in the end it did, in a rather grumpy caramelised sort of way, so now I have... umpty tum assorted jars of  rather caramelly ginger, fig and crabapple jam.

And with the aid of Pp, I finally took down the awful broken old outside light and finally put up the new one that has been sitting in the porch for ages.   And I also fixed the side gate latch that Brythen broke!    Then I went blackberrying with my mother and the dogs.
bunn: (Berries)
I have picked a big bag of crab apples, and a smaller bag of rowan berries, and am making rowan jelly.  There are still a lot of crab apples left, so I think I may pick some blackberries (it's such a good blackberry year!) and make some blackberry jelly too.  I wonder if you can embalm whole figs in jelly?  I have got so many ripe figs, I am running out of things to do with them!  The heatwave may be over, but the skies are still blue enough and the sun warm enough to ripen figs on a south-facing wall.

It's the time of year when I find myself constantly stopping to snack on blackberries and hazelnuts from the hedges.  There are so many nuts that there are enough for the squirrels and plenty to spare for me.

Which reminds me of a book I read recently: "Witch Light" by Susan Fletcher.

Read more... )

I meant to pick the nuts in the garden today, and then cut back the nuttrees, but instead I have cut back the big sycamore near the window, which was leaning out perilously over the lane and (I suspect) annoying the neighbours who have to get past it.
bunn: (Berries)
I took some elderberries, and in my usual half-arsed kind of way that I cook things, I wined them.

By which I mean I added boiling water and sugar, let them cool, and stuck some yeast in (oddly it was champagne yeast, because for some reason that was what the shop I went to had). Then when it had bubbled for a few days, I thought I should probably do something with it, so I took the elderberries out and stuck the liquid in a demijohn. There wasn't enough to fill it properly, so not having any applejuice to hand, I topped it up with elderflower squash, reasoning that this is basically flavoured sugar-water, so should ferment as well as anything. It remains to be seen what will happen.

Read more... )
bunn: (Berries)
Out on the hill this evening, I and the hounds were alone -  all the tourists and fair-weather walkers had been blown away by the wind or washed away by the rain.  You could only see a few yards through the blowing mist, all scented with the gorse-flowers and a faint hint of distant seaweed.

The leaves are mostly off the hawthorns on the hilltop now, so they make craggy dark shapes against the mist, with a faint hint of red where the haws are still clinging on.   The rowans are more brightly dressed in brilliant orange-red berries - even the ones that have otherwise lost their leaves are nude with red decorations.  It gives them a faintly Christmassy air which ties in nicely with the tinkling Brythen-bell tearing about invisibly somewhere in the mist.

Occasionally,  Brythen hurtles past close enough to be seen, and then his bell creates an interesting Doppler effect, which Az and I usually fail to appreciate as we are trying to make sure he doesn't crash into us.

A couple of days ago I noticed that there was a particularly generously laden elderberry tree on the path down from the old quarry, so I wandered past that way this evening.  Sadly, the rain began to come down in earnest while I was picking, so I had to trudge damply back up to the car park, accompanied by a mournful Az and extremely tragic and soggy Brythen, who kept trying to crawl miserably under bushes along the path to hide from the horrible horrible rain.

Brythen was so wet, he actually let me dry him with a towel!  This is a real leap forward.  He used to run away and hide upstairs while I dried off Az, due to his strange but compelling fear of towels.

Now I have 1.2 kilos of elderberries, and need to decide what to do with them.   I'm tempted to try wine-making rather than jelly for a change.
bunn: (Berries)
This weekend, I have made four jars of blackberry jelly, and am in the process of making rowan jelly too.   I have also made some blackberry whiskey.

The fig tree continues to be wildly productive, and had two more ripe fruit today, although I think the rate of ripening is slackening off now that the weather is getting a little cooler.

The apple trees have not done well this year.  I think I'm going to prune them fairly heavily this autumn, in the hope of bringing them back to productive life. 

Foraging

Aug. 21st, 2013 10:50 pm
bunn: (Berries)
I saw a random tweet from @NFUCountryside, asking about foraging, and which wild foods people collected.  I think this is worth more than a tweet, so here is a post.
Read more... )
bunn: (garden)
Is a bit terrifying really.

I know that actually having a big garden is a remarkable privilege, but none the less, sometimes it does feel a bit like someone has given me a dragon's egg.  Amazing and beautiful but also quite a lot of work and somewhat painful.  And you can't look away from the bugger for a minute!

Read more... )
bunn: (Berries)

How I hated that poem when I was younger.  It seemed to push aside the still-perfectly-good summer and be rushing needlessly ahead, without acknowledging that a *proper* autumn wasn't about sun on hazelnuts, but about wild winds and crunchy leaves and frost and bonfires.   The poem has grown on me a bit since, but I still think 'close bosom-friend of the maturing sun' is an utterly ludicrous line. 
And a little more wittering, with some butterflies.  )

BERRIES!

Aug. 20th, 2012 11:12 pm
bunn: (Berries)
I picked some rowan berries last week, which are now in the freezer, becoming milder and more edible in flavour before undergoing transformation into rowan jelly.  There seems to be a bit of a shortage of crabapples this year - most of my favorite crab trees are completely fruitless.   I think this must be down to the dampness of the spring, though it may have something to do with the lack of summer sun, too.    But I did find one tree that had clearly managed to seize exactly the right moment to flower, so I have enough crabs to make jelly.

My apple trees - well, they have *some* apples on them. But not many, and they are rather small crabby efforts: I fear we will not get many eating apples this year.  I think I have to put it down to a bad year.   It's been a bad year for figs too - just not enough sun to ripen them. I've only had three ripe figs all year, and none of them were really dark and sweet.

Blackberries, however, are everywhere, and I filled half a tub with them on this evening's dogwalk before Yogi plastered herself in mud and we had to go and find the pond.   A lot of the blackberries are flyblown already - all this rain definitely favours the flies - but a walk down the west side of the hill into the sunset found enough worth the picking.  Going back up the hill, the sun had fallen below the level of the mounded clouds overhead, so a golden radience flooded in over the shoulder of Bodmin moor, illuminating a goodly number of berries that I had failed to notice on the way down.

I wonder about the flies that lay their maggots in blackberries, are they a special sort of blackberry-fly, or are they generic flies just taking advantage?

Ripenings

Jul. 30th, 2011 06:50 pm
bunn: (Berries)
Not only are the early apples ripe (and falling off the tree!) a good two weeks or more early, but there are blackberries ripe in the most sheltered spots - and not just the odd one either, I could make a crumble if I felt so inclined!

Whereas up on the hill, there are still whortleberries on the bushes - normally I'm sure they would be well over by now - and some of the plants have flowers on again - at the same time as the berries!

A fortnight or so ago, I met a grumpy old woman who was picking whortleberries. When I commented politely that it was a good year, she grumbled at me that 'everyone' was picking them.  Even if this were true - and I'm up there often twice a day, and have seen very few other people showing any interest in the bumper crop - the bushes are loaded with the things and have been for months.  There are so many berries that many have got overripe and are falling off, leaving purple splats on the ground, and I come back from walks with my mouth and fingers a virulent purple.

In other news : clearings, choppings and planting plans )

In Other other news, I went to Tavistock, where I bought:a number of things with remarkable speed )
bunn: (Berries)
Read more... )
 
Sadly, it seems to be a terrible year for rowans: I know it's too early for them to be ripe, but none of the blossoms on the trees where I normally pick rowan berries seem to have set this year. Perhaps it was the dry spring?
bunn: (Berries)
News story here : Sales of blueberries have overtaken those of raspberries
is riddled with wrongness! 

Britain is mostly on alkaline soil?  That'll be a surprise to all the specialist growers of rhododendrons and azaleas - and to all the people working to try to eliminate invasive wild rhodos from acidic British soils!   It surprised me, as I am currently eating handfuls of whortleberries (a close relative of the blueberry) on most of my walks. You need to be careful how many you put in a muffin though.  Otherwise you end up with a sort of grey squishy pudding.  Very tasty, but not a thing of beauty!

I'm dubious about the idea that the plants are beset with pests too.  So far as I can see, the reason that some fruits (raspberries, strawberries gooseberries, currants) are grown in Britain and some aren't so much (figs, blueberries, kiwi fruit etc) is simply that in Britain, land is very expensive and so is labour.  This is not a cheap place to grow any kind of fruit commercially, and fruit growing has been in decline for generations. Most fruit plants take years to establish, so there is little incentive for growers to experiment with new species.

In other news, I've just eaten an apple from the early apple tree: very red, but rather too tart still.  Give it another week or so.   I had to fight my way through undergrowth to get there though - could really do with a couple of days to just mow and chop nonstop, with no rain!
bunn: (Berries)
It's all looking depressingly shaggy out there now that the campanulas and roses are over.  I have to admit I have a major weakness when it comes to gardening in late June / July, which is that I just can't summon up the energy when it's hot, so everything goes bushy and gets overgrown.   Then, when it rains, I tell myself that everything is so shaggy I'll get totally soaked out if I go out there to chop at it while it's still wet, and things go from bad to worse!   I actually enjoy it when I manage to motivate myself to get out there, so I don't know why I keep putting it off...

On the positive side, the blackberry that I failed to remove from the greenhouse is now covered in berries ripe a good two weeks before anything else in the area, and the buddleia is in bloom and covered in Red Admirals and bumble bees.  I saw a honey bee on there this morning as well! *

And the pumpkins and squashes seem to be doing well, I have plenty of basil and tomatoes in the greenhouse and  in the other side of the strawberry bed, there is a riot of nasturtians.  You are supposed to be able to eat nasturtian seeds 'like capers'.  Must try this. 

Up on the hill there are loads of rather nice whortleberries. I am scoffing them by the handful on walks, and must try to remember to take a pot of some sort so I can grab more to make muffins.  And possibly, Jelly. 

*Slightly saddened that a single honey bee now merits a yay.  5,000 years of domestication and now English honey costs a fiver a jar. 
bunn: (Berries)
A festive ad for Aldi just came on. It showed in passing what looked like a tray of stuffed strawberries.

1) what kind of maniac stuffs a strawberry?

2) who wants fresh strawberries at Christmas anyway?

3) why can we not just accept that strawberries out of season taste of nothing but bland-yet-sour pap and just eat something else?

4) How come we can buy strawberries all year round, yet the season for satsumas, which I ADORE and which as a citrus fruit ought to store much more easily, is so very very short? *


* actually I think I know the answer to that, strawberries are tolerant plants and can be forced into production when a more sensible plant like the divine SATSUMA would scorn such profligate behaviour.

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