Late Summer

A beautiful Late Summer morning here at the foot of Slieve Blooms, the sun is just about to appear from behind the mountain and it promises to be another great day for foraging.

I’ve been home in my usual patch for just a week and while I missed the bulk of the Fraughans and Field Mushrooms, I was delighted to get one good picking in a very steep mountain field, daylight hours are spent out gathering whatever is to hand or harvesting garden veg, when evening draws in it’s home to the kitchen to feast or save the bounty. Dinners these days are made up of our own spuds fresh from garden, accompanied by wild mushrooms our own beans, tomatoes courgettes and maybe a little cheese from Mossfield next door. The pleasure of eating what we have grown or picked is more than reward for the work in garden or the occasional sting or minor injury picked up foraging, (I am currently sporting a black eye, acquired on a  Blackberry picking outing.

What a magnificent Blackberry harvest there is this year,they are hanging fat and ripe from every bramble bush, the temptation is to pick and pick but I am disciplining myself to harvest and process, batch by batch, avoiding the sin of allowing berries picked to spoil. So there is a growing array of preserves for the pantry shelves, There are so many ways to use Blackberries, Vinegar, Jam, Jelly, Sorbet, Syrup, Wine, baked into Friands, etc etc….

Soon the Elderberries and Hazelnuts will be ready too and all kinds of fabulous Mushrooms are appearing, I was lucky enough to find Ceps, Millers, Milk caps and more this weekend so if  you have a little time do get out and pick it is such a pleasure. This year I will be making Dukkah for the first time.Dukkah is mix of roasted and ground nuts and seeds,then spices are added to give more flavor, the Dukkah is then used with sweet or savory dishes, eaten with good bread and olive oil or sprinkled on veg or as coating on tofu or cheese, fish or meat.

now the sun is up and it’s time for breakfast and off to the wilds to collect again.

Blackberry Wine

So it’s a poor year for berries but still managed to gather a few kilos of Black berries and as i have stocks of jam from last year and the berries were a bit damp I have started some wine which is happily burping away in the hotpress.

this is how I make it.

You will need,

  • Small bucket or bowl, about 7litre capacity,
  • Cover or lid for bowl,
  • Means of sterilizing all equipment,
  • Jug and funnel,
  • sieve or jelly bag to strain out berries,
  • Demijon and air lock.

Ingredients,per demijon.

  • 2kg fresh blackberries,
  • 1and half kg sugar,
  • sachet red wine yeast,
  • teaspoon pectolase,
  • about 3half litres water.

Method,

put blackberries and water into sterilized bucket or bowl and crush the berries, cover so no vinegar fly can get in, lid or cloth and leave in warm place for few days, strain out the berries crushing more to get as much flavour as possible.

add the sugar to the strained liquid and stir till dissolved, if you like at this stage you can use a hydrometer to determine the sugar content and start point of ferment but you don’t have to.

transfer to demijon filling to about 10cm from top, if you have juice left over keep in bottle in fridge.

add yeast and pectolase to demijon and airlock.

Leave to ferment in a warm place shaking each day. fermentation should be rapid in first week, afterabout a week when fermentation has slowed allow reserved juice to come to room temp and top up demijon.

Allow to continue fermenting and rack, (siphon off from residue) wine after 3-4 weeks, discard residue and return wine to clean demijon and continue fermenting.

Some people “stop” their wine by adding a campden tablet i prefer to leave it ferment as long as it takes (6-10) and then bottle.

Most important, leave it to mellow and mature for at least 6 months.

 

 

 

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