BERRIES TO LOOK OUT FOR

Olive - - EXPERT -

BLACK­BER­RIES Pro­lific from late sum­mer un­til mid Oc­to­ber, they’re typ­i­cally used in jams and jel­lies, bakes and pud­dings, but their warm spici­ness makes them a per­fect base for liqueurs (see page 115).

HAWTHORN BERRIES You’ll spot th­ese hang­ing in clus­ters of small, scar­let, pea-sized berries from Septem­ber through to mid au­tumn. In their raw state their flesh is dense, dry and not par­tic­u­larly palat­able, but once cooked they make a good base for jel­lies, and also work well in ketchups and fruit leather strips.

EL­DER­BER­RIES Many of us pick el­der­flow­ers in the sum­mer to make fra­grant syrups and cor­dials, but what fol­lows is even bet­ter. Ready to pick from late sum­mer to mid au­tumn, el­der­ber­ries hang in dense clus­ters from el­der trees and make lus­ciously dark, vel­vety jel­lies and syrups. You can also turn them into a spiced, vi­ta­min-packed cor­dial or a de­li­cious fruit wine. A cou­ple of things to re­mem­ber – the tiny berries stain badly and when eaten raw they are slightly toxic, so make sure to cook them be­fore eat­ing.

ROSE­HIPS Avail­able from Septem­ber to Novem­ber, their bright, red­dish-or­ange hue makes th­ese oval-shaped berries easy to spot. Packed with vi­ta­min C, they can be used in teas and for in­fus­ing vine­gars, but we love them in a richly tangy syrup (used in cock­tails, or driz­zled over por­ridge or pan­cakes). Their seeds are cov­ered in tiny hairs that will ir­ri­tate your di­ges­tive sys­tem if eaten, so when you’ve cooked down the fruit be sure to dou­ble sift the purée through a piece of muslin or jelly bag.

SLOES Th­ese blue-black berries are un­ap­petis­ingly bit­ter when eaten raw but add a lit­tle sugar and their tart­ness is trans­formed. They are, of course, de­li­cious in­fused in gin but also make ex­cel­lent jel­lies and sauces that go beau­ti­fully with game, or with strong cheeses (see page 115). Ready to pick from Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber.

THE BEST OF THE REST... Rowan­ber­ries – the fruit of the moun­tain ash tree – make a pretty, brightly coloured jelly that pairs well with roast meats. Dam­sons are a wild plum that make ex­cel­lent fruit cheeses and liqueurs. Crab ap­ples – smaller and more tart than their eat­ing cousins – have high pectin lev­els which mean they’re a great ad­di­tion to soft fruit pre­serves, to help them set.

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