After my tentative attempts to make elderflower cordial this spring I couldn’t wait to raid the hedgerows this autumn. So far I’ve made the obligatory blackberry and apple crumble (with hedgerow apples) but I’ve also experimented with other hedgerow delights.
First up was hedgerow syrup. The recipe is pretty simple: gather as many edible fruits as possible, simmer them until it all goes mushy (adding spices is optional), strain through some muslin, add sugar and boil for a few minutes. Apparently cloves act as a preservative. My ingredients list included blackberry, apple, elderberry, rowan, hawthorn, rosehip, cinnamon, cloves, dried chillies, bay, lemon juice and juniper berry.
Inspired by this success, I’ve upped the game and made hedgerow jelly. As far as I can work out, jelly is jam without bits. I’ve never attempted jam before as the thought of all that boiling sugar (and talk of setting points) terrified me. Anyway, I gave it a go this year and the recipe is: simmer all the edible fruits you can find to a pulp, strain all the bits out, add a pound of sugar for every pint of liquid, and boil the heck out of it for about ten minutes. The tricky bit is finding the ‘setting point’. I dribbled drops of juice onto a plate to see if they would set. There’s bound to be a more professional technique but the result was one and a half jars of pretty solid-looking jelly. Which tastes very nice by the way.
Now I started this adventure with an eye on making elderberry wine. I’ve got plenty of berries in the freezer but I’m not sure yet if they are going to become wine or more jelly. Watch this space…