By Jane Hulton-Harrop
The mornings get lighter later and the evenings darker earlier. There’s a chill in the early morning air although often sunshine in the afternoon.
Damsons are one of the tastiest fruits of our hedgerow. They generally ripen in September and are best picked just they are about to fall to the ground. We have several well hidden damson trees with easy pickings. We eat a lot, give a lot away and make jam, chutney or jelly with them, not to mention damson gin!
One way of excluding stones from the preserve is to make jelly but we prefer crab apple jelly so make jam. The recipe says that the stones rise to the top whilst boiling but that never seems to work form me so I just bottle the jam stones and all! If serving with scones, I painstakingly pick out the stones but if I give the jam away I just warn people to watch out for the stones! Damsons do make a delicious jam.
Sloes, the fruit of blackthorn bushes, generally ripen later than damsons and it is said that one should not pick them until after the first frost but a seasoned picker knows when each individual bush is ready to harvest.
Our family recipe is simply a third sloes, a third sugar and fill up the container with gin. I generally go easy on the sugar as it is easy to add some later if necessary and I no longer painstakingly prick each sloe as I have decided this is unnecessary if the sloes are ripe. Frequent shaking keeps everything in the mix so that by Xmas the liquid can be collected through a coffee filter paper and bottled bottled for drinking by ourselves and our friends.
Tomatoes ripen slowly and late at Pollardine. Sometimes we wait for them to turn red and eat them like grapes because of their flavour but we also pick the large green bullets, slice them with onion and turn them into delicious ‘Green Tomato Chutney’ to enjoy over the winter.
I like to make chutneys and jellies, crumbles and pies, puddings and sauces. Even fallen pears stew to make the most delicious puree which can be frozen and enjoyed in the heart of winter.
5,4,3. Flour, sugar, butter.
Put in bowl, rub in.
Best crumble ever 😊
Hips and haws, holly berries and rowan, beech nuts scattered, as are conkers and sweet chestnuts. Sycamore and ash keys, blowing in the breeze, elderberries and acorns, so many seeds, And Autumn colours everywhere, our own rich tapestry.