We also spotted a wild red currant growing nearby among the blackberries - tasted ok, but we decided that it was too much effort for too small return. Queen Anne's Lace is flowering all over the countryside at the moment - it's a relative of the carrot and when you pull up a plant the root certainly smells carrot-y! It's a bit late in the season to use the roots - they need to be picked when young and tender, although Mrs Beeton's says that even then the wild form has an acrid, disagreeable taste. It's been known from ancient times as an aperient and abortifacient. Very pretty but not a harvest for today. Also just starting to colour were the berries of the Hawthorn tree - commonly used as a hedgerow plant along country roads. The berries are known as Haws, and , I am reliably informed by the interweb, can be used in jellies, jams and syrups ( although I note that all the recipes I have found so far have equal quantities of apples and sugar, so suspect that these preserves are Haw in name only).
Next the search was on for apples. Jonathan has made cider a couple of times, but wanted to try it with foraged apples (cheaper and more plentiful). We spotted plenty of trees that were about a fortnight off being ready (as well as a nectarine in the same state - damn!). Finally down a side road we stopped under an enormous tree laden with what looked like a variety of golden delicious apples ready for picking (as well as falling on the ground). Because the tree was so tall, and we hadn't thought to bring a rake or long secateurs, there was a bit of hilarious bashing of branches with sticks and trying to catch the falling fruit so it wouldn't get damaged on the road. The thing about apples (and any fruit) growing wild is they have probably grown from a randomly dropped apple or seed decades ago, and bear little resemblance to what we see in the shops. Cider is best made with different varieties, so after picking a couple of kilos from this tree we kept driving until we found a couple more - red apples which looked like Bramleys and red delicious, around 9kg in total.
So a very 'fruit'-ful day. Tonight we're going to be cooking up our bootie, and I'll blog the results. I soon stopped feeling self-conscious about our exploits, and got a small thrill every time we had a 'find' either for today or to make note of for future foraging expeditions - of which there will be many! I've made a booking for the three of us to do a mushrooming ramble, which will hopefully equip us with the knowledge not to poison ourselves this coming autumn!