Wednesday, 26 August 2015

More Magical Mulberries

I revisited our old favourite Mulberry tree while it was still fruiting, with a friend. We used different methods to pick the tasty succulent berriesInitially we just reached up and gathered what we could from ground level, but as normal we could see larger darker fruit, annoyingly just out of reach.
So we spread out an old sheet over the ground and then gave the thinner branches a good shake. This method was fairly useful, if somewhat indiscriminate and the Mulberries were easy to spot as they fell.
It was a very enjoyable time and out containers were quickly filled to the brim and beyond. Obviously we had to eat some before we could gently squeeze the lids on. Then we cycled off contented and coated in sweet sticky juice.
When I got home, I decided to freeze my delicious hoard and decide how to use them later. I laid them out on baking trays before slotting them into the freezer, then bagged them up later. This means you can choose exactly how many you want to use at any time later on.
Hopkins made a smashing smoothie with some of her Mulberries - the recipe follows...
  • 1 frozen banana 
  • 1 Handful of mulberries
  • 2 cm fresh ginger (grated)
  • 1 cup rice milk (or any other milk) 

Blackberries are particularly abundant at the moment and Hazel nuts will soon be dropping too. We made our first Bramble and Apple crumble of the year - hopefully there will be many more to come.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Dial M for Mulberry

The morning was muggy, or was it Tuesday? I get confused...
The slim blonde dame in blue hat was staring at me through her fingers. She looked like she might be hiding something - her hands were dripping with a sticky red claret-like liquid
It looked like it should be a clear cut case.
Then I noticed that the girl had an accomplice, loitering nearby. He was a small chap who looked like he had not eaten for a week. He was sporting a blue hat too but I was not sure if that was significant. Their getaway vehicles were well oiled and between the two of them they looked guilty as sin.
Someone whispered the word Mulberry but what did that mean? Could it be some kind of code or a clue?
Later that night I asked Uncle Google if he knew anything about Mr Mulberry. 
He related mysterious tales about silk worms, the orient and trees that bleed. A distant memory about the unlucky kimono flashed through my mind. However, after mulling it over, I was convinced this was just a red herring. 
I seemed to be going round and round...
Then I remembered a post I once saw about a sticky sweet juicy fruit - somewhere halfway between a Raspberry and a Blackberry that grows on a tree called the Mulberry.
Apparently, these two suspicious characters had located all the Southampton Mulberry trees on a secret map and then raided them on stealth-bikes. By the time you read this, their blue hats and juice smeared faces will have vanished into the ether

Monday, 3 August 2015

Beautiful Backberries

The Head Chef has been working her magic again. Using the stockpile of Tayberries from our allotment, Strawberries and a load of Redcurrants from my Mum's garden, she created the quintessential Summer Pudding... Yum!
Fortunately, I managed to persuade her to omit the Blackcurrants that we also picked, but which I cannot abide and these were summarily transformed into several jars of jam.
By the time you have finished picking your plump plums, eaten your pies and stashed the jam, and chutney safely away in the larder, you will soon notice that there is a positive glut of beautiful Blackberries in the hedgerows near you.
Suddenly those prickly invasive briars and knobbly green fruit have become the source of everyone’s favourite seasonal fruit. The nation’s mind turns fondly toward towards picnics and Blackberry picking. During the Summer holidays, almost everyone becomes a forager, if only a short while.
At the same time, if you look closely, you will notice the emerald green Hazelnuts ripening in the Hazel bushes. They are well camouflaged, but if you lift the leaves, you will see them nestling amongst the foliage.
When you observe the squirrel nibbled shells on the pavement, you know that the time is nearing for harvesting these delicious - nutritious nuts. They should ripen toward the end of August - beginning of September. 
It is easy to gather vast amounts of ripe brown Hazelnuts, as long as you pay attention, identify the trees and remember where they are; they will keep well and can be used in many different ways.
Elderberries will be ripening around this time too. I normally make wine from them but there are many more recipes to be utilised and there is never a shortage of these shiny purple black beauties, as long as you get there before the blackbirds.