Armed with baskets and bags, Ruth and I took off to a neighbour’s farm (with their permission) the other evening. We returned laden with blackberries, cooking apples and damsons.
We left behind the rosehips and sloes for now until the first frost has arrived, and the quince are not quite ripe yet either (haws are plentiful if you fancy making haw ketchup). With our fingers black with berry juice, and a few scratches too I might add, we fourmulated the plan:
Apple Sauce for winter puddings
Damson Vodka for, well, me!
Blackberry Jam for Ruth’s teachers
Damson Syrup to drizzle over Winter morning pancakes.
The sauce and syrup will go into the freezer in small portions which I will defrost as required throughout the Winter.
I like to make simple fruit syrups with honey and use them as sweet toppings or freeze them in icecube trays to add to sparkling water for a refreshing drink. Wild damson syrup has that real “earthy, hedgerow” taste making it the perfect accompaniment for game.
Whenever possible in the kitchen, I replace granulated sugar with our own pure honey .
Make a little “testpot” of syrup first to see if you like it, before making and freezing huge batches.
300g washed wild damsons
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp pure honey
Place the washed damsons in a pot and add the water.
Simmer slowly for about ten minutes until the stones have come away from the fruit.
Allow to cool slightly then place the mixture in a sieve and strain.
Return the stone/skin free juice to the pot.
Add the pure honey and simmer for 2-3 minutes ensuring the honey has dissolved.
Remove from heat and allow to cool
* Add more or less honey depending on your taste
Now see if you like it by pouring the syrup on natural yoghurt, icecream, porridge, or indeed, anything you fancy!
And don’t forget to make some for your friends..
PS: I went out to feed the hens this morning only to find a hen that had been missing, waiting for her breakfast, with six tiny little chicks! She more than likely hatched them in a nearby ditch but now they are all safe and sound in their own little coop. Isn’t nature really something?
You’ll find my take on Irish Apples in the Oct/Nov edition of Irish Country magazine.
For more of my “back to basics” tips, check out the current edition of the UK’s Home Farmer
I’m delighted to be MC for the night in Ballon, Co Carlow on October 10th for their harvest food festival – do come say hello! (AND, I’ll be kicking off the event by showing you how to make Raspberry Gin/Raspberry Cordial with a little sample on the night for everyone).
“Food from an Irish Garden” is available in bookstores nationwide.