Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Mulberry Madness

All Smiles at the Allotment
Mulberries are a gorgeously tasty sweet fruit and once you locate a tree, you will want to keep an eye on it and visit it regularly. The fruits sweeten as they darken and they will not all be ripe at the same time. 
Under the Mulberry Umbrella
Of course the darkest sweetest fruits, are also the softest and the blood red juice can tend to get everywhere and stain things, like fingers.
Guilty as Charged
We visited a favourite tree when on holiday in Devon. Then on our return to Sunny Southampton we picked a load off a local tree.  Before we entered the house again we checked the soles of our shoes (fortunately) and had to spend a while brushing the sticky berries off them, that could have made a dreadfully messy mess.
Come Back Next Week
The children they looked up a recipe for Blackberry and Apple Crumble, my favourite; we already had a load of Blackberries from the allotment. They used a mixture of Blackberries and Mulberries, along with some apples that we had picked earlier.
Tastes Better than it Looks!
I failed to take photos of the children cooking (probably a good thing in retrospect) but they actually did a fantastic job, rest assured the result was a feast for the taste buds. By the time did I remember the camera, there was barely anything left!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Hazelnuts = Happiness

Hazelnuts are a very healthy food; they can be used in many ways and recipes are easy to find. We tend to eat them just on their own or mixed with Walnuts and raisins as a healthy snack. We made delicious Hazelnut Chocolate Spread one year, which proved very popular indeed with my daughter.
I heard a BBC R4 report recently, stating that Hazelnuts are in short supply this year because the harvest has failed... in Turkey... However, if you are in the UK August/September, these super-food nuts are ripening on a bush near you gratis and they look particularly abundant this year
The signs are easy to spot, if you know what you are looking for… The Squirrels will always come early to the table and the first signs will be nibbled green shells scattering the pavements.
You can pick and eat hazelnuts when they are still green, but we prefer to wait until they are brown and falling of their own accord.
Often there will be lots on the ground after a windy or rainy day but if they are wet, you will need to dry them out, if you do not plan to eat them straight away, otherwise they will go moldy.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Blackberry Beginnings

For most of the year the bramble is seen as a cruel and invasive weed; it will grow almost anywhere, at an astonishing rate. It is capable of shredding clothing, piercing shoes and cutting soft skin to ribbons.
On our allotment there is a huge briar patch, which I thought needed taming. However, when I attempted to subdue the area and cut the brambles back with a scythe, it retaliated by growing massive stinging nettles, wrapped with bind weed. We have now come to a territorial agreement.
However, as August rears its sunny head and the school holidays arrive, people cease cursing the brambles, and start to talk fondly about Blackberry picking.
For many people the annual tradition of Blackberrying is as far as they get with foraging. For some though, it is only the beginning; the start of an exciting and multifaceted food-based adventure.
Blackberries always taste fantastic straight off the bush, they can be baked into an array of scrummy pies, cakes and puddings, and they make lovely Jams or Wine. If you don’t have the time for cooking right now, they can always be frozen and stored to use later in the year.