As the leaves begin to turn and summer comes to an end, it's time to grab the basket (or cardboard strawberry punnet as I tend to use!) and go out into the fields to scour the hedgerows for berries.
Blackberries are the first to be sought after - a little late this year, but so plump! I don't think I've ever seen such big juicy ones. Most of them were popped straight into the freezer for pies and crumbles.
Next was elderberries. I just love elder trees as they are so productive and beautiful. The deep colour of elderberries and their scarlett stalks is stunning. They were put into the pan to make elderberry cordial. Flavoured with cloves, it's a really nice drink made with warm water - perfect for when you're suffering with a cold, though maybe you'd be better off drinking it before hand to prevent you getting a cold in the first place!
Soon after the elderberries come the sloes. Last year there were none, so it was with some relief to find some this year. They are now in a kilner jar full of vodka and sugar, slowly infusing to make the most delicious liqueur, Sloe Vodka, or Slodka as we call it.
Whilst exploring local hedgerows in search of sloes, I made the happy discovery of not one, but three damson trees! And they were weighed down with fruit - a beautiful sight to behold! Boxes and boxes were picked, most now in the freezer waiting to be made into Damson Vodka (Damka... can you spot the theme here!)
I did use some of the damsons to make chutney and to make a start on that dreaded Christmas present list!
And finally, just when I'm starting to flag with all this picking, boiling, straining and bottling, come the rosehips. Sons 1 & 2 were really happy to hear that rosehip syrup making day had arrived, as they love drinking it neat from a spoon, like medicine. It was lovely to hear their enthusiasm for it! Rosehips have huge amounts of vitamin C, so hopefully this syrup will see us well through the winter months.
All of this foraging has inspired Littlest in doing his own gathering of leaves, pine cones and in particular acorns and a result is getting very good at spotting oak trees - fantastic!
It's been a wonderful year for berry foraging and the store cupboard is very well stocked. A very satisfying feeling indeed. Bring on winter - though not too soon!