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Monday, 16 September 2013

Hedgerow Harvest

Sometime ago I found a recipe in a library book for Hedgerow Jam and resolved that when the time was right I would try it.  On Saturday after lunch I duly set off in search of the required ingredients including sloes, which I have always felt I should be able to make use of but as I don't like gin and I have never known what else to use them for I have until now left on the bushes!  They are so beautiful and look like something Mediterranean I always think.

I decided to make this outing a Bus Pass, Boots and Backpack one and duly set off to catch the bus to the next village - a distance of just over 2 miles which takes about 5 minutes in the car.  I haven't yet found a straightforward route to walk it and walking along the A30 is not to be recommended as it is narrow, busy and in many places has no verge let alone a footpath.  The route the bus took was roundabout and we passed through several small villages and along single track lanes reaching West Coker in about 25 minutes.  I set off to climb to the Ridge and this is the view looking back.

Once on the Ridge this is the view looking across the other side and is one of my favourites - I want my ashes sprinkled here when I die!


Isn't it stunning?  And just look at the sky - always changing, always huge and beautiful.  I found masses of hawthorn berries and some rosehips on my climb up and then walking round this field I gathered some sloes and blackberries along with some elderberries.

Having packed my bounty into my rucksack I made my way back to the village - ever mindful that I mustn't be late or I would miss the bus and there wouldn't be another till Monday!  Look at that patch of bright sunlight over there whilst everywhere else is in shadow - interesting isn't it?

I loved the light as seen here - looks almost foreign doesn't it? 

Back in the village now and a short walk along the road to the bus stop and home.  I hadn't found any rowan berries nor any crab apples but I knew my neighbour has a crab apple tree in her garden and as luck would have it when I was passing her house she was just arriving back from somewhere and I was able to ask her if she used them all or if not whether I might have a few.  She said of course and I was able to pop back and pick up some of the windfalls after I'd deposited my backpack and its contents and had a cuppa.  So then I had everything except the rowanberries.  I decided to leave it all till Sunday and if it was fine - some hope as we were forecast heavy rain and strong winds - I knew where I could find some half an hour's walk from here. I knew where there were some much nearer but I wanted them from somewhere well away from the roads and traffic fumes.

The forecasters were wrong about the rain and winds early in the day and by lunchtime on Sunday I had all the ingredients I needed. Seems a shame to cook these doesn't it?!

I spent a happy rainy afternoon (yes the forecast was right by then) - it was very time consuming - picking over all the fruit and weighing it and boiling and then sieving it all and then adding sugar and testing for set and so on but I eventually finished up with these - the one at the front is for the neighbour who so kindly gave me the apples.  I don't think I shall be going into production any time soon though as it did take absolutely ages especially if you factor in the three hours on Saturday and an hour on Sunday spent doing my hunter gatherer bit.  I also seemed to have the kitchen worktops covered with pans and bowls and wooden spoons all liberally stained with purple, there were piles of washing up to do and cartons of leftover pulp to take out to the compost bin not to mention splatters of juice on my clothes.

The spread - I can't really call it jam as it doesn't have any pieces of fruit in it and I suppose it should strictly speaking be called a fruit butter - will go well with some of my home made bread and as I enjoy it I will be reminded of the happy time I spent out in the countryside picking the fruit. I made half the recipe as I wasn't sure how it would turn out and I have put the surplus fruit in the freezer but I might keep it for the birds in winter rather than making any more preserves delicious though it is!

Now some might say why on earth go to all that effort;  why not just buy a pot of jam?  I think we are hard wired to provide for ourselves and in doing so we meet some fundamental need going back through the centuries.  It might be time consuming and labour intensive but it is also extremely satisfying in a way that a jar of industrial (or even home made by somebody else)  jam can never be.  And when it's taken so much time in the fresh air and exercise in the walking to find the necessary ingredients as well as the physical labour of the cooking then I feel no sense of guilt at spreading a slice of bread with butter and topping it with some of the resulting spread for surely the exercise will counter the calories I eat!! 


  1. Looks like a lovely walk and your wonderful fruit spread and fresh bread was definitely well earned!

  2. what a lovely platter of free goodies.
    I know what you mean about how gaps in the cloud allow the sun to spotlight an area while all around it is shady. We get that here, where you can see a hill or field in great detail, just while the sun shines on it.
    That looks like a lovely walk.

  3. What a lovely plate of free food.
    I always make my own jam. It tastes so much better than shop brought.

  4. Your fruit and bread looks absolutely beautiful, and what an enjoyable way to spend the day.

  5. Lovely pictures of everything. You can make Sloe Vodka, Sherry or Brandy but I am not sure about Whisky.

  6. Oooh you just can't beat homemade jam however runny it is!
    Scrummy, scrummy, scrummy!

    Enjoy your delicious nibbles...
    Tilly x

  7. It all looks lovely. I don't eat bread so I don't really eat jams at all, but I love them all the same. Adding to Toffee Apple's comment you can make sloe martini too.

  8. Jam looks lovely! Glad to hear I am not the only person who picks out places for their ashes to be spread! C x

  9. Oh yum! We turn most of our hedgerow findings into jam.

    Nina x

    I can't link through to you via comments any more, I had to do a google search - not sure why. Nx

  10. I love the concept of a mix of fruits and berries all combined in a lovely jam. I never buy jam. Homemade tastes so much better, and I love seeing the jewel colored jars on my basement shelves.
    What a great day you had - beautiful scenery, good exercise, and a sweet reminder.

  11. Oh that plate of fruit did look good, I'm sure your jam or butter tastes equally good. Wonderful looking bread as well!
    I have such a craving for bread and jam now!
    V xxx

  12. All looks fantastic. Guess you had the right sugar...


  13. Ditto! I made an 8 fruit hedgerow jelly (strained overnight through a 'jelly' bag), and added the juice of half a lemon to give it a bit of a kick!
    The 8 fruits are - rosehips, hawthornhips, sloes, damsons,elderberries, blackberries,rownanberries and crab apples.
    I have enough fruit leftover to make various cordials, some will be frozen in ice cube trays, to pop into hot water making a lovely drink when it's cold or you can suck the ginger and elderberry ones if you have a sore throat. when the cubes are frozen, I put them in a freezable container, using the teabag tongs, you can then take out one at a time.

    Enjoy your preserving!

    Sandie xxx

  14. What a lovely post! It made me smile :o)

    Just to let you know I hate gin too, but took the plunge the year before last and made some sloe gin to give as gifts...of course I had to sample it first and what a revelation! It's wonderful and NOTHING at all like gin - so go on, give it a try.
    Rose H

  15. Ditto to Rose about sloe gin. We have some that is very old, we're not great drinkers, but it is sweet, fruity and very, it is a bit too early.
    We make chutney rather than jam, no setting point necessary, and like your hedgerow jam, the ingredient list is very flexible. Mr T does all the prep, it did take several hours. We leave is seeping in vinegar overnight and then boil it up for at least three hours, stirring every 15 minutes or so after we had a batch burn a few years ago. We eat it all year and it is a favourite with friends for Christmas.

  16. That basket of wild fruits is really beautiful! Rose H is absolutely right- gin and sloe gin are totally different animals, I loathe gin but sloe gin is superb.

  17. Another vote for sloe gin here ... it's marvellous stuff. As is blackberry vodka. And your hedgerow jam looks jolly good too :)

  18. A wonderful harvest! I am sure that Bonne Maman would call your fruit 'puree' a conserve and I bet it is tastier than anything commercially bought. x

  19. You have certainly earned your bread and butter and jam! Or bread and butter and butter. The fruits are very beautiful all nestled together in your photo. Jam making is a lot of work and time consuming, you are right about that! I totally neglected the figs this year and let the birds, bees, wasps and ants have all of them except for a handful of fresh ones I ate one day right off the tree. Perhaps I'm growing lazy. You will enjoy the results of your labors into the winter months and remember your days out gathering fruit. That's lovely. Not to mention, very delicious too.


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