As the nights grow darker, the hedgerows and trees become more fruitful.
The first season blackberries and elderberries of last month are being replaced by second fruitings of even plumper blackberries, along with apples, pears, haws and more. And that means the house is redolent with the scent of simmering fruit, spice and honey.
Nature is abundant. A trip to the corner shop to buy a pint of milk led to plums, apples, hips, haws and a small plastic figure (Star Wars, I think) which will be given to a small child rather than left on the floor to potentially harm wildlife.
The rose hips are a particularly vibrant colour. I’m making raw rose hip syrup for the first time – layering rose hips (with split skins) in sugar.
Making them in this way keeps more of the vitamins than boiling them up – assuming it works. They’re currently sitting on the windowsill, and will apparently reliquish their juice over coming weeks…
I’ve dispatched the first batches of jam to friends and family. The more jam I make, the more creative I’m getting. This batch includes pear, haw and stem ginger; and haw, blackberry and apple.
I’m learning to balance high-pectin fruits such as apples and plums with pectin-light fruits such as elderberries, adding the right amount of sugar and lemon juice. It feels like science and magic all at once – and if something doesn’t set, it can always become the base for a liqueur or wine.
Foraging offers creative fun: I never know what I’m going to get, and often scour the internet to discover what something new is. These Turkish hazelnuts were one discovery (foraged by my mum, who kindly gave them to me. The cases will be used in crafting).
On days like today when pain prevents me leaving the house, cooking the produce I’ve collected gives me a mood-boosting connection with the outdoors – and makes the house smell delicious.