Although we are still in August, there is the beginnings of a chill in the early morning air that is a gentle reminder that Autumn is on its way. This makes the clear, warm mornings even more precious, knowing they will soon be few and far between. Whilst on my downland walks over the last few weeks, I have noticed the berries slowly ripening and my walk this morning was the first foraging session of the season.
There is nothing more delightful that picking berries early on a sun filled morning… one for the bag and one for breakfast! Why is it they taste so much sweeter straight from the bush, its rather like fish and chips eaten out of paper. The same food eaten off a plate at the dining table just does not have the same flavour does it?
This mornings harvest comprised blackberries, sloes, elderberries hawthorn and rosehips. Their colours reflect the deep reds and purples that encompass the early Autumn tones.
Tonights dessert will be vanilla ice cream with blackberry sauce and what is left (if there is any!) will be frozen. The berries don’t just taste good, they have many health benefits too – blackberries are used by herbalists for sore throats, so having them ready in the freezer means I am ready to make a sore throat gargle, just in case the children get a throat infection over the winter.
Sloes will be used to make Sloe Gin, and the best thing about this is that sloes are wonderful blood cleansers and in turn are a remedy for arthritis and gout. Turn your gin into medicine and know that whilst you are sipping your slow g and t you are also detoxing your body. Isn’t nature great?
The elderberries, hawthorn and rosehips will make an immune boosting winter syrup. Elderberries have anti-inflammatory properties and are the perfect winter cold and flu remedy as they help the body flush out toxins and are anti viral as they strengthen cell membranes making them less penetrable to attack.
Hawthorn stimulates blood flow to all the tissues and arteries and encourages a good circulation and Rosehips boost the immune system with a very high vitamin C content. They also contain vitamin A and have astringent and anti-inflammatory qualities, which make them wonderful to use in skin care.
Please remember if you do go on a little forage in the hedgerows, just pick a little and leave a lot for nature. Never pick more than a third of the flowers or fruit and never, ever leave the plant with no fruit or flowers. Be sure to forage well away from farmers fields or near the road, where there may be pesticides and chemicals.