the edible hedge in September

autumn fruits

In September, the edible hedge and all the other hedges around the fields are filled with berries and fruits. It is certainly one of the best months of all for foraging. The blackberries are in their prime just now, the rosehips and hawthorn berries are ripe, wild pears and crab apples are ready to use and the sloes are almost soft enough to pick.

edible hedge jelly print

Even the foliage can be used for jelly printing.

Mostly though, I’ve been picking blackberries. They’ll only be usable for another couple of weeks so I’m making the most of them. We’ve finished picking blackberries for Slamseys Gin, so now I can just wander along the hedgerow with a couple of containers, picking as I please. We eat them fresh and unadorned by the handful, mix them with autumn fruiting raspberries or throw them in a saucepan with a sprinkling of sugar and heat them long enough for the juices to run but not so long that they cook and fall apart. A dash of Blackberry Gin is added sometimes or a little cream. We’ve feasted on Blackberry Ice Cream, Blackberry Fool, cocktails with Blackberry Gin, a Blackberry Slice (from The Great British Farmhouse Cookbook) that’s like a Bakewell Tart made with a meltingly soft shortbread base, used them for Uncooked Porridge (sometimes in a jar and sometimes not)  and there are a few jars of Blackberry & Crab Apple Jelly (always preferable to jam with its pesky blackberry pips) lined up on the pantry shelf ready to spread on warm scones and pancakes on dark winter evenings.

My favourite preserve though is Bramble Spread. A delicious, utterly blackberry intense spread. Not solid and sliceable like a Quince Cheese, but half way between a butter and a cheese; more concentrated than jam and jelly because it’s little more than a sweet puree. Glorious on toast or scones. There’s no faffing around with jam thermometers or testing for set, no worrying whether I’ve made a super firm set jam that can be prised from the jar in one rubbery mass or whether I didn’t boil it for long enough and have a sauce to pour straight from the jar. Even if the Bramble Spread sets too firmly, I just call it Bramble Cheese and slice it to eat with cold meat or cheese.

To make Bramble Spread

800 g blackberries
800 g sugar

In a large pan, slowly heat the blackberries with 300 grammes of sugar and 120 ml of cold water and gently cook until the berries are soft.

Push through a sieve to get rid of the pips, then put the juice and pulp back in the (clean) pan with the remaining 500 grammes of sugar.

Over a low heat, stir to dissolve the sugar and simmer (not rapidly boil) for 20 minutes, still stirring.

Pour into ramekins or small jars, cover and label. Best eaten after two or three months during which time it will thicken a little more.

30 thoughts on “the edible hedge in September

  1. All those different fruits and berries from the hedgerows – makes our, largely conifer, hedges here seem very boring. I have plans to haul out the conifers and plant something more interesting, wildlife friendly and, of course, edible and will refer back to your post for inspiration!

  2. I made blackberry and apple cheese the other day by accident. I just couldn’t bring myself to waste the pulp from the blackberry and apple jelly (five jars) squeezed the pulp through the jelly bag and put back in to the pan added sugar and made one jar – it is delicious!

    1. It always seems such a waste to throw away the pulp when it still has so much goodness in it. I wish I’d thought to do that with my blackberry & crab apple jelly.

  3. Absolutely gorgeous pics – the hedgerow in still life in your first pic would make a wonderful postcard! as would your gorgeous jelly print … Just a thought! Must try the bramble spread – looks delicious. E x

  4. Anne. I love all your foraging. You certainly have one on us. There is not much to forage around here. Your blackberry spread sounds wonderful.

  5. Thank you for this wonderful post, I enjoyed it so much! I’ve never heard of bramble spread, but I want to try it now. I really must get out bramble picking this weekend before the season ends. x

  6. Looks like a beautiful and peaceful place to be this time of year Anne! You are so lucky to have a gorgeous selection of fruit at your fingertips. I’d love one of those cocktail please- just divine 🙂

  7. What lovely images! Thank you for sharing these!

    Question: I am working on some xylitol recipes for the diabetics in my life. I’ve read xylitol is a more widely used sweetener in Europe than in the US. How much of it do you see in your wanderings about recipe sites in the UK, etc.? I am hard put to find a cookbook for it. The only one I can find here in the States is bland – no pretty photos – decent enough recipes so far, but nothing that really inspires one to make a needed change.

  8. Your Bramble Spread recipe prompted that xylitol question. I just attempted preserves this morning with xylitol as the sweetener. Fingers crossed that it gels. 🙂

  9. I love that first photo! It surely sounds like you’ve got masses of blackberries and that you have a million possibilities to use them. Years ago my husband talked me into making blackberry jam because he actually likes the little seeds in there. I agreed and he came home with about 14 lbs of them. Well we were having an incredible heat wave and then a hurricane blew through causing us to lose power for days. By the time we got the electricity back I had lots of overripe blackberries and a houseful of fruit flies.

  10. Another terrific Post Anne. You could frame that photo, it’s so decadent. We’ve planted an edible hedge – white and red currants – to go along the front boundary of the plantings. I cannot wait to see some fruit on it 🙂

    1. How wonderful to have a productive hedge of currants. We pulled out our red currant bush because the birds ate more currants than we did but at least you won’t have that problem with all the fruit you’re going to have.

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