Sunday, 24 August 2014


At this time of year the hedgerows are, as the saying goes, "groaning with free food". You just have to go out and help yourself to it! This is exactly what I did on Friday.

Last weekend we went out for lunch to a country pub, and on the way home through the lanes I noticed a plum tree laden with fruit. This Friday I went back to that place and picked some of the plums:

It turned out to be not just one plum tree, but a whole line of them, absolutely laden with ripe fruit, and easily accessible too. I could hardly believe my luck. In the space of half an hour I picked 12.5kgs!

The plums were mostly of two types - some red and some yellow.

If I had wanted to, I could easily have picked 50kgs. It was hard to know when to stop!

As I was loading the trug-tub full of plums into the car, I noticed these:

They are Sloes, a close relative of the plum. You wouldn't want to eat them raw because they are incredibly tart and astringent, but they are great in a Hedgerow Jelly, as well as being the vital ingredient of Sloe Gin. Fortunately I was well prepared, and had in the car a container in which to collect a few, along with a handful of Blackberries.

Most of the Blackberries were under-ripe, but there were enough to be worthwhile if you looked carefully.

While I was gathering the Sloes and Blackberries, my eye lit upon these:

They are Elderberries, of course. I just HAD to collect some!

If I had been into brewing I would probably have gathered a few of these too. They are Hops:

With plans for making jams, jellies and chutneys chasing each other round my brain, I drove home and more or less straight away phoned my friend Rosemary, who has a big Bramley apple tree in her garden. A short while later, a couple of kilos of Plums were traded for a couple of kilos of cooking-apples.

Apples are an important ingredient in many jams and jellies, because they contain high levels of pectin (which helps the jelly to set), and hedgerow fruit usually has only low levels of pectin.

I'll show you what I made with all this fruit in a post in a couple of days' time...


  1. I wish I had access to such wonderful and easy plums. Apples seem to be the tree of choice that were planted years ago. And without some kind of protection they are just full of insects. Blech!

  2. I wonder if I had access to such variety would I know when to stop? That would be the hardest thing to do. Amazing! Looking forward to your posts about using up/preserving all that goodness...

  3. Wow, what a fantastic haul. I shall look forward to seeing what you make with it all.

  4. If I had all this fruit just for the picking, I am not sure I would need to grow any :) What a great variety and amount you got!

  5. Wow - what a wonderful time you had - and what a bountiful hedgerow you found.

  6. It's really fruity day! So lovely! The fruits that you have make me so jealous. I have never known about apple as an important ingredient in jelly or jam. Thank you for sharing. I can wait to see your home made jelly and jam.

  7. What a great forrage. I wish we had plums and sloes growing wild. We have blackberries, but that's all from your list. But we do have prickly pears.
    Looking forward to seeing what you make.

  8. We forage on the plot Mark, All but the sloes but their are plenty of blackthorn nearby. Those plums look lovely but make sure you cut them in half before eating,

  9. This harvest just highlights the fact that you've had better temperatures and weather than we have had. That's an incredible forage ;D
    We have to be careful because the Laird just lives along the lane from us and I'd hate to pinch all of his produce. Maybe I should go and tip my cap first then we won't be known as the local poachers!
    Thinking about it though... if it were a hundred years or so ago, then we might have got a free passage back to Australia!
    Fantastic photos... enjoy your Bank Holiday and forage fair ;)

  10. With the rain forecast (correctly) for today, I determined to get out and forage yesterday. I came back with rosehips, sloes, blackberries and elderberries - although our elderberries have almost all gone, I guess the birds have got them. How fabulous finding all those plums - and even better being able to trade with a neighbour. Looking forward to seeing the results!

  11. Oh my! What a brilliant discovery, I am quite envious of those plums, one of my favourite treats of the year! I spotted a laden apple tree over a fenced car park in Winchester the other day and was seriously considering shimmying over the wall to scrump some for tea...I did decided against it in the end in case someone got the wrong idea! You have inspired me to keep looking!

  12. A fine haul indeed. I've noticed the sloes seem to be ripe very early this year round here too.


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