Friday, 27 September 2013

Fruits of the forage

Well it's been a week since my last post and time seems to be racing by so so quickly. I still have tales from my August holidays to tell you about and everything we've been up to during September. I'll get around to it all eventually but, for today, I just wanted to take you back to last weekend.

I mentioned last time that I was going foraging and that's just what we did. Chickpea and I gathered our carrier bags and plastic containers and headed off down the fields to see what we could find. Our target was blackberries and elderberries and we found both in abundance. Funnily enough I was watching BBC Breakfast one morning this week and there was a report about what a fantastic berry harvest there's been this year. We picked about 3lbs of blackberries and could have brought home a lot more if we'd taken a larger container.

Elderberries were also plentiful.

We managed 2 carrier bags full and Chickpea spent most of the afternoon sat in the garden stripping the berries. I've already cooked these down and strained the juice and this weekend I'll be transforming it into cordial.

Before we leave the fields though I wanted to show you something else...

A horse in the next field was so curious to see what we were doing that he came over and stood watching us for ages. Such a beauty.

We were also lucky enough to spot this Common Darter and even luckier that it landed long enough for me to whip out the camera.

Back home, some of the blackberries are being turned into liqueur. It's such a simple recipe: part fill a jar/container with berries and then pour over enough vodka (or gin) to cover and a few tablespoons of sugar. Put the lid on and leave for a couple of months. Give it a shake occasionally to help the sugar dissolve.

I've frozen the rest of the berries until later because I simply ran out of time after washing and de-bugging them. The rest of my afternoon was devoted to...

...plum chutney. Well, spiced plum chutney to be exact. 

Plums, apples, dried figs, dried cranberries, ginger and cinnamon. So fruity and colourful, I could have just eaten it at this stage. I'm sure the chutney will be just as good though.

As well as harvesting wild produce, I've also been harvesting from the garden. We've already eaten quite a few of our carrots and they've all been a good size.

More surprisingly, I harvested potatoes. The surprise is that I didn't actually plant any potatoes. I had a large pot in the garden into which I'd dumped a pile of old compost meaning to dispose of it. However, during the summer I noticed shoots starting to appear. A few pieces of potato from last year's harvest must have been lurking in the old compost and germinated. Not a bad harvest for no planning or effort whatsoever!

The potatoes weren't the only vegetable lurking in the old compost though. Some of it was spread over the flower beds and, again, I noticed plants growing. At first I thought they were weeds but, as I pulled one out, the leaves smelled suspiciously like tomato. I left the seedlings in and look what appeared! I'm really hoping the lovely weather we've had this week will encourage them to ripen but I think they might have appeared just a little too late in the season.

Last but definitely not least, it wasn't just gardening which occupied me last weekend. I've also made a start on the latest challenge from my quilt group and I'm loving it! Not particularly the challenge but just doing some quilting again. This is only a miniature but I've already cut out all the pieces for a full size quilt too - I'm so excited!

No prizes for guessing what I'll be doing this weekend then. I'm also planning to go to Yarndale on Sunday and hoping not to spend too much - is that even possible? Maybe I'll see some of you there? Have a good weekend whatever you do. x


  1. A beautiful posting, full of colours! You've just reminded me to go for some blackberries myself! My mum also makes this liqueur and it's really nice!

  2. Wow - you've been so busy - I think this is the best kind of happy busy - puttering around the house and garden. Lovely photos and I can't wait to see the quilt.

  3. Fantastic post Julie. You did well with the berries by the looks of things. We made bramble vodka too! Your chutney looks gorgeous too.
    Marianne xx

  4. OH MY GOODNESS! I love this post from beginning to end. All of the photos are FANTASTIC. Are you kidding me, those perfect potatoes just came up from your COMPOST? WOW! And those carrots, they are beautiful! The sound of the cordial sounds great, and you make it so sound easy!
    YARNDALE? OH MY, I wish I could go!! PLEASE say hello to LUCY from Attic 24 if you see her, tell her Georgia Girl With An English Heart said hello! xxx

  5. It is a good year for berries, isn't it? There's so many in the lanes around here too I tend to carry a container with me on my walks and usually manage to fill it.

    I love your quilt squares and am looking forward to see the end result.

  6. So much activity in your garden and kitchen! I like the sound of spiced plum chutney, a nice alternative to jam, and your photo of the common darter is absolutely fantastic. x

  7. I so enjoyed these photos of your garden. Ours did absolutely nothing this year. It is quite discouraging to realize our gardening skills seem to be getting worse instead of better:) I really love those carrots.