It happened again. I swore it wouldn’t, but it did. I gave into the urge to preserve. I don’t even eat jam/jelly! It’s a serious problem!
It happens every Autumn; lots of wild fruit everywhere, and a desire not to let any of it go to waste. Well, this year, due to the lack of fruit (utterly hideous Summer messed everything up) my options were very limited.
I had to look beyond the obvious apples/plums/cherries/sloes to the only two things that seemed to have done well: rosehips and crab apples.
Crab apples, if you’ve never come across them, are small, hard little apples which certainly aren’t any good for eating, and are generally too small to make worth preparing for cooking. Driving along country roads you’ll see these things littering the road in places, squashed and brown where they’ve been driven over. But when Mum and I went out on our foraging field-trip at the weekend there really weren’t even all that many crab apples to be seen! Until we came across one tree, in the middle of nowhere, which was attempting to make up for the lack of crab apples anywhere else all by itself! Yards and yards of ground around this one tree were covered with little yellow apples, and you couldn’t take a step without crushing them underfoot. It’s a forager’s dream come true 🙂
More easy to spot were the bright red rosehips in the hedgerows up and down the country at the moment – and what’s more they appear to have been plentiful, in spite of the weather. Rosehips are one of the wonderful forgotten British fruits – they can’t be eaten easily, but prepared in jams or jellies they are a fantastic source of Vit C, to the extent that during the war, children were sent out to collect rosehips to make syrup, which would be administered daily to make up for the lack of fresh fruits.
None of the recipes Mum and I used are terribly labour intensive, but be warned: they take time, space and loads of clean, empty jars with lids. (I made the jelly, then checked for jars – WRONG WAY AROUND! Make sure you have plenty of standard sized jam jars).
The Rosehip and Apple Jelly recipe can be found at: http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/rosehip-and-apple-jelly-recipe-60/
The Rosehip Syrup recipe can be found at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2006/oct/21/recipes.dessert
And the Crab Apple Jelly recipe can be found at: http://www.waitrose.com/home/recipes/recipe_directory/c/crab_apple_jelly.html
I spiced up the Crab Apple jelly by adding a couple of cloves, cardamom pod and a cinnamon stick respectively to three of the jars. Rosemary also works very well – just add a sprig to the jar as the jelly cools.