Hedgerow Colours and other Bits and Pieces

Rosehip CordialMy gesture towards autumnal hunter gathering (ha!) has been limited this year to these two little projects.  Rosehip and (assorted friends) cordial and the hawthorn ketchup recipe which comes from Pam Corbin’s book Preserves but can be found fortuitously (and probably not very surprisingly) in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Guardian Weekend column this week along with other fashionable hedgeforagy ideas. More about haws here in Alys Fowler’s column too.

out of focus washed haws (hawthorn berries)

I managed to make one little jar from 500 g of hawthorn berries. Not sure if it was worth the effort somehow!

I barely picked any blackberries and there were very few sloes, apart from a few I found in the freezer, the damsons were almost non existent and the squirrel has stolen and buried all the nuts – so it goes. And I suspect that this is the same for many people, hence the interest this year in the hawthorn berries and rosehips which are plentiful.

I am working my way through the apples from the garden slowly. I spend a lot of time not doing very much and what I do, I do quite slowly. Here is a squishy apple cake, which I made yesterday from a recipe from Cooks Illustrated by Andrew Janjigian. It is made with oil not butter and has a clever construction whereby you mix egg yolks into part of the batter for the bottom and extra flour into the top part thus creating a layered effect in the cake. I am not sure I did it justice as I was working from cups, which as we know is not my strong point. Edit : My apples are for some reason all floating to the top in any cake with a soft batter. I think it is me as it has happened now in a couple of cakes ! I have added a link to the recipe, which I didn’t have earlier and I see there is a video too… if I had known…. ah well there is always next time !

I had better add a slice shot too

I ‘tore’ up the original bright and breezy tra la version of this post as I need to find a new voice. I am not a good housewife, I am not a good gardener, I am just a fallible and imperfect human being who for some reason strayed into the blog world and stayed for company. I like your company. Truth.

Sometimes I think I am channeling the Guardian.   Alys Fowler confirms that it is perfectly acceptable to rehome supermarket basil in this week’s magazine too. I can report that my two are still rampaging away and people come and lop stems off and cart them off. It really is much the easiest way to keep them going with minimum fuss and outlay. I am not convinced by the micro herb thing. Seeds, though not expensive when you grow full size plants from them, do become pricey for relatively small return when you eat the results so small. They don’t always come out nicely either, sometimes very small and a bit stringy and sad, if you don’t have ideal growing conditions indoors.

Outdoors the flower sprouts, which now dominate the raised bed with their dark and purply presence are…. yes they are…. growing flower sprouts – this is quite exciting for me as I have never grown sprouts in any shape or form. They are frilly and they lie in the space between stem and leaf. Ooh! The broccoli rab threw up two leaves, a yellow flower and died in the shadow of the giant flower sprouts. The winter creeping thyme drowned mysteriously having started off quite well. The half a dozen bulb fennel babies are living in their fortress where I shall protect them from the marauding pigeons if I have to sit on the veg bed with a knife between my teeth.

Brian has taken a beautiful photo of the Trail of Tears beans drying on a north facing windowsill.

And what else did I think might amuse you as you dance through the internet? I attempted to clear one tiny corner of the garden yesterday, with much moaning and wingeing and pulled out the cold frame with Brian’s help to give it a rudimentary tidy up before the winter and managed to disturb Madame Frog. She made me scream of course but then I steadied my nerve and picked her up to move her to an undisturbed spot and I swear she is is smiling here. You have heard of Puss in Boots? This is Frog in Glove.

Zeb went to look for the frog but he has some funny ideas.

No frog in here…

NB For Rosehip Cordial.  Pick as many ripe rosehips as you can manage. Put them in the freezer overnight to help soften them.  Cook them gently in water until you can mash them up. They have little hairs inside so you do need to strain them or let them drip through a fine muslin in order to get the juice out, as you would if you were making jelly which is also an option.

A mixed bag of rosehips, hawthorn (haws) berries and blackberries

I added a handful of blackberries and some other bits and pieces to use them up but you don’t need to do that. Then once you have your strained juice, add 325 grams of sugar or so to each 500 ml of juice, heat till dissolved but do not boil. Then bottle in clean bottles and heat in a water bath if you don’t have a canner. The water bath is basically a deep saucepan with a clean folded tea towel in the bottom full of water in which you stand the bottles up to their necks and then bring the water up to a set temperature for a set time, (varies depending on what you are canning). If in doubt freeze your cordials if you have space and then you won’t have to worry about this.

44 thoughts on “Hedgerow Colours and other Bits and Pieces

  1. Elaine

    Loved the blog and the wonderful pictures as always – the one of Zeb made me really smile which is a good thing on a Monday morning. The apple cake looked great and the unusual recipe made me want to try it – maybe this weekend I will find the time. I did find time last weekend to make some blackberry rum – it was meant to be blackberry vodka but when we looked we only had a surplus of white rum. I now have 2 jars filled to the brim and am dutifully shaking them gently. Not sure what it will taste like but life is an adventure, I will let you know what it tastes like in 8 weeks time. The vegetable patch is now looking very sorry for itself and the leeks have come to nothing – not sure why. Next time I want to try growing beetroot after watching Nigel Slater making his beetroot and goats’ cheese & yogurt salad.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Elaine – I have never made blackberry vodka or rum, partly because Brian can’t eat blackberries, ditto strawbs, raspberries, gooses, all those little hairy berry fruits sadly. I am sure it will be delicious though. Maybe you could make blackberry rum babas? (Not that I have ever made a rum baba…) You could maybe try some of these Japanese greens in the veg bed, they are supposed to be good at overwintering, but the ones I have sown so far are still very small so I can’t vouch for them. I missed Nigel’s salad but it sounds wonderful. There is a fabulous goat cheese maker who came to Whiteladies Farmers the other week who says he goes to Stroud 2nd and 4th Saturdays – amazing cheeses you probably know him – White Lake Cheeses ?

  2. hotlyspiced

    Your rosehip cordial looks wonderful. What a great flavour it must have. I agree, that frog does look very pleased with himself. I’m so glad nothing was found in the washing machine! xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks Charlie! The cordial tastes a bit like nursery days – just like in Mary Poppins – we were dosed with the stuff as it is so high in Vitamin C and there was a phase of cod liver oil on spoons that I remember as well, which I am happy not to have to partake of anymore.

  3. Jan

    Such lovely photos Joanna. I do love the picture of Zeb, that’s so sweet and childlike. There’s such beauty in the everyday little things of life – even the indignant looking frog. You have the same gardening gloves as I do – you haven’t seen my trowel have you? I swear when I find it I’m going to paint it bright yellow.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I have your trowel and I am not giving it back :) I love the showa gloves, except when I get the backs soaked with water and it all ends up on the inside. Jan, I have just seen Foxie go by the front door and I am sure he is going to go and dig up all the daffodil bulbs that my neighbour gave me today. Shall I let the dogs out?

      1. Jan

        Oh, you must, but first clap the colander on your head, put wellies on feet then fling back the door and bellow (can you bellow?) “Tally-ho”. Rush out making blunderbuss gestures and sound effects, tear back inside with two highly excited dogs and I guarantee foxy will never take a casual lope through your garden for granted again. Oh, for good measure you could fling back the door again and (another bellow please) “The Sewer!” (….’Love in a Cold Climate’) then blow your nose after hysterical giggling and put the kettle on, a big one, because the neighbours will by now have called the police and they will all need a nice cuppa and a piece of that lovely apple cake.

        1. Joanna Post author

          The things I do for you…. That colander has given me hat head ;) .. and I have been looking at clips of Love in a Cold Climate on You Tube, as I don’t think I ever watched it. Wild!

  4. sallybr

    OH, that frog made me smile…. You could ask Phil how does he know that there’s a frog in the backyard – my scream can be heard in a radius of 200 miles… seriously. And, of course, she is always waiting for me to jump and say hello.

    loved the write up and the photos, and having you on my screen bright and early!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I can’t stop taking pictures of the frogs, Sally, I still find them very exciting! Brian claims to have watched them eating slugs late at night, he says they move very fast and gulp them down :) How nice to brighten your screen xx

  5. heidi

    Thanks, Joanna- I was in need of a look into your world.
    Your gentle style and happy pictures fit my mood perfectly- and we are all ” fallible and imperfect human being who for some reason strayed into the blog world and stayed for company.” – in fact I felt like I was looking at something I had written at that point.
    Love the photos- and the ketchup- the cordial is lovely- and the frog is huge!
    Honestly- I just love hearing from you. Have a great day, my friend.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Well, it’s the pretty pinky side of my world tempered with a few stray snapshot sort of thoughts and bathing in the sunlight when it appears – blogs are like that aren’t they though? The ketchup is very lemony and is supposed to get better after a few weeks, so I will report back with a cheese sandwich on whether it was worth the effort – Have a great day you too Heidi :)

  6. Misky

    Stunning autumnal colours. Funny how the colours are so warm and vibrant at this time of the year, and yet here I am chilled to the bone. Perhaps it’s time to turn on the heating.

    My store-bought basil is also growing strong and happily. Snip-snip, and it grows back.

    1. Joanna Post author

      You haven’t turned the heating on? I have dug out my long underwear and sewn myself in now until the Spring, thrown extra dogs on the bed, and found my woolie socks and wincyette pjs. (wink) Great to hear another basil rescued Misky :)

      1. Misky

        When Peder’s not home during the day, I often don’t turn on the heating. I just throw on a jumper, and vest (undershirt), thick socks, etc., etc., and I’m ready to go. Occasionally the mornings are cold, and I’ll turn on the heat to take the nip out of the air, but by lunchtime it’s plenty warm and I’m usually peeling off layers. Lovely here today, breezy and very autumnal.

  7. Kenneth

    I do like the picture of the beans. Strangely, half an hour ago, I was talking here to Ruth about perhaps growing Cherokee Trail of Tears beans next summer. We grew them five or six years ago. They were slow to get going which I think you mentioned in an earlier post. Anyway Ruth said they were yellow, I said I thought they were a light green. Yet I see yours as being purple, green AND yellow! Is that an artefact of the drying?

    1. Joanna Post author

      Ah the beans! Well, they grew both purple and green, which was odd but that’s what it said on the packet. We thought that maybe the ones which got more direct sun went purple but I am not sure. The lighter ones in the photo are the green ones only very dry. I seem to remember you have an ipad Ken? I can send you a link to some other photos of the beans growing this summer.

      1. Kenneth

        You’re correct Joanna, what a good memory you have. That would be really good if you could post a link. I think I had my original seeds from Real Seeds but I don’t remember the different colours although it would explain our confusion at this end!

        1. Joanna Post author

          I have emailed you a link to the Photostream thing, I have used up all my free flickr space. My seeds come from Real Seeds too. They describe them as ‘Tall, purple flowers, rounded green/ red pods. Black seed.’ Some of mine were definitely purple, though most of them were green some with reddy blotches. I have no idea if other people’s beans were vari coloured too. If the photostream link doesn’t work for you then I will email you some photos direct. Edit : Maybe there was a bean or two in the packet from another variety that they sell? I don’t know the answer.

          1. Kenneth

            Thanks for the link, problem is my iPad is a version 1 which can’t take iOS6 and my Mac is not yet Mountain Lioned due to extraordinarily slow download speeds where I am in Shropshire. All is not lost however as my daughter is donating me her old iPhone which already has iOS6 installed so I should be ok to go in a fortnight or so when she can get it to me. I shall wait patiently. Thank you.

            1. Joanna Post author

              I was just looking at the photos again, I have found one which seems to show them turning from green to purple on the same stem, but they were so twisty turny I can’t swear to it. I will email it to you now :)

  8. cityhippyfarmgirl

    I wonder what Zeb would think of our cane toads…actually he’d probably think what most people do. Ick! How on earth did that get so big!
    I think it’s an incredibly satisfying thing to be able to forage for something, whether it be big or small amounts. I seemed to have missed mulberry season this year. My one foraging fruit I’m able to do here in these parts of Sydney….maybe next year.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I vividly remember seeing a film about your cane toads, but I am sure Zeb would run away. He likes to worry about the frogs but he doesn’t touch them. The dogs like it when I stop to pick things, it means a longer walk for them and Zeb has a fondness for blackberries after all these years of hanging around in prickly bushes. Mulberries grow here but I haven’t come across them in Bristol, I bet they are great Brydie !

  9. Anne MC

    Hi Joanna, hope you are well. I was wondering about doing rosehip jellie but feel rather put off by all the strenuous work involved in getting rid of the berries hairs. Is it worth all the work: are rosehips flavor good?

    1. Joanna Post author

      Straining the cooked hips is very similar to straining blackberries. If you want a crystal clear liquid or jelly you mustn’t squeeze the bag. (I nearly always squeeze). I also ran my liquid through a gold swiss coffee filter thingy, but that was because I had squeezed the bag and regretted it, so as you can see my cordial isn’t crystal clear. Truthfully all the processes are strenuous and I always wonder if it is worth it, but only you can decide if you want to play with these things or not. I reckon it’s worth doing once and then you know. You can buy it from various places, if you just want to try it to see what it is like – I just googled it, though it doesn’t appear to be sold by the chemist’s anymore.

      Edit : Anne I just looked closely at HFW ‘s recipe for hedgerow jelly (link in my post) where I see he advises chopping the rosehips roughly first. I didn’t do that. I froze them and then cooked them the next day. The freezing softened them enough so you don’t have to chop them and get the hairs on your chopping board. I just mashed them a bit with a potato masher thing in the saucepan. I hope this helps :)

  10. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Your posts always make me smile! I like your company too, and I’m glad you update the blog occasionally so we know what’s happening in your world. I grew up eating dried haw flakes – it’s a common Chinese confectionery. And I’m with you on the microherbs – not for me either! :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Common Chinese confectionery – how interesting Celia – I wonder if I could find it in the Chinese supermarket, what is it called in Chinese if I ask for it. I am glad I make you smile :) Makes it all worthwhile xx

      1. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

        Haw flakes! Yes, you should be able to find them easily – little round tubes of flat flakes! Let me know how you go! xx

  11. Ann

    I adore that dog – I think it is very sensible to look for a frog in a washing machine!
    Spring here in Perth and a lovely warm sunny day but it was still cold enough last night to be glad of my dog on the bed.

    1. Joanna Post author

      It is an old and noble tradition to have dogs on the bed after all, think of all those stone knights and their ladies in English churches with swords on their chests and little dogs under their feet :) Wikipedia usefully gives photos of the Arundel Tomb that go with the Philip Larkin poem “An Arundel Tomb

      Photo by Tom Oates

      Arundel Tomb

      “The poem describes a medieval tomb that can be found in Chichester cathedral; the tomb is of Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel (d. 1376), and his second wife, Eleanor of Lancaster (d. 1372), with their dogs at their feet. He has his right hand ungloved, and her right hand rests lightly upon his.”

      Zeb though sleeps as close to our heads as he is allowed….

      1. Ann

        Such a wonderful tomb and thank you for the delightful poem. I haven’t read much Philip Larkin and am now inspired to read some more.
        It was a bit warmer here last night so I had Spot at my feet – when it is cold he likes to spoon!

  12. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

    Isn’t blogging a fine endeavour.. here you are, changing your “voice” to satisfy your desire for honesty. I loved this post.. I’ve loved your other voice.. personally, I benefit so much from reading each other’s blogs because we are so utterly unique. I have never had a garden like yours.. a frog dance onto my hand, or a shaggy dog who sticks his head in the washer:) And, I’ve never made rosehip cordial.. it looks sumptuous, the flavor must be fantastic! In fact, I’ve never picked a single rosehip, I must do something about that! xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      You are very sweet. My garden is suburban, overdesigned and full of hard surfaces which are falling apart, tunneled away at by relentless colonies of ants. There used to be a giant brick pond here and we took it away because it had to be netted against the herons taking the fish and I was worred that my puppy (as he was then) would climb in one day and drown tangled in the netting. So there are frogs, born in the old pond who stay here. They can spawn in next door’s pond if they want to go there fortunately, but I do feel a bit guilty that we took the pond out, and leave lots of damp corners and piles uncleared for them to live in. Actions and consequences, some unexpected! Rosehips are great to pick, but beware of the thorns, gauntlets are probably a good idea. Do you have wild roses growing in the parks in your city?

        1. Joanna Post author

          This blog post from a London Hunter Gatherer has some good photos, though some rosehips are round in form, depends on the type of rose and a good description of making rosehip syrup, slightly different from the way I did it, the essential thing is to strain everything well as he says

  13. Will

    The Sloe harvest in Gloucester is bumper, might even be worth a trip if you’re desperate for them. My good lady and I picked a couple of pounds worth and left plenty…

    1. Joanna Post author

      That is reassuring to hear Will, maybe there was a sloe frenzy in Bristol and someone picked them all in the spots I know. Thanks :)

  14. ediblethings

    As you have been commenting on my chutney, I was reading this lovely post, Joanna.

    Your preserves look delicious. I can guarantee that the hawthorn ketchup is worth it, it is a staple in my house. As are the frogs (not to eat, but as pest control in my damp garden that sits on the water table)

    The good news for Barbara is that she can eat all the roses, and the rose petals she will find in the UK, wild or domestic. Don’t eat the hips raw, because the hairs are an irritant. And be careful of the use of sprays and chemicals.

    If you are in doubt plants for a future http://www.pfaf.org is an excellent resource on wild and domestic edibles.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks Mel I am slowly working my way through Pam Corbin’s book and each year I like to try something new. I am looking forward to sampling the hawthorn ketchup soon.

      Barbara lives in Canada and I imagine that they have similar roses to us but maybe there are indigenous Canadian plants which have a similar looking fruit. I have just added a phone pic to the post of the last little bagful of rosehips that I picked. Thanks for the link to the database too :)

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