Wednesday 1 September 2021
It’s late summer, when the hedgerows of the Chilterns are starting to burst into colour with berries and abundant fruit – you can see blackberries and elderberries, crab apples, damsons, rosehips and rowan. It’s a great time for foraging and who doesn’t love a handful of free fresh blackberries on their cereal or a juicy plum?
Late summer and early Autumn has traditionally been a busy time of year for making jams, jellies, chutneys and preserves – it’s time to dig out your Grandma’s special recipe for apple and blackberry crumble or plum jam - or time to make some sloe gin! Best of all, it's feast time for birds and wildlife too, for whom the hedgerows are a valuable and sustaining food source.
Did you know that the Chilterns has over 2500 miles of hedgerows?
Hedgerows are a key habitat feature of the Chilterns providing pollen, nectar, nuts and berries and seeds throughout the seasons. Hedgerows are rich in bird life, especially songbirds like yellowhammers and corn buntings, and also blackcaps, robins, goldfinches and greenfinches.
Hedgerows are eco corridors, providing shelter for invertebrates, birds and mammals, and avoiding the fragmentation of habitats, which is where wildlife can't move easily from one 'island' of suitable habitat to another. Dormice love hazel hedgerows.
As late summer progresses into autumn, watch the hedgerows whenever you are out and about and notice the beautiful changes in the colours of the leaves as they start to turn.
Time honoured fun with the kids! Go out armed with a bowl or a Tupperware and search the brambles for the plumpest, juiciest berries. Eat them on your porridge or with yoghurt or cream. Or bake in a blackberry and apple crumble.
Aylesbury used to be famous for its ‘Aylesbury Prune’ damson plums. Wild damsons are still plentiful in the hedgerows and are great for cooking and baking. Alternatively, visit Peterley Manor Farm in Prestwood where you can Pick Your Own plums.
Don’t let windfall apples go to waste! If you have fallen apples and can’t use them, there are several farms in the Chilterns where you can get your apples pressed including Drovers Hill Farm and Pasture Farm near Princes Risborough, and Chiltern Ridge Farm near Chesham.
Elder (sambucus nigra) - pictured below- can grow into a large tree and is common throughout the Chilterns. Elderberries are thought to have good anti viral properties. They are also fantastic food for birds.
Wait until October or November and watch out for the sharp spikes! Check out this Hawthorn Ketchup recipe on Great British Chefs.
We've pulled together a few recipes below.
You can find many Here's a recipe from the BBC website!
A handed down recipe from a relative of one of our staff members! An indulgent, sticky pudding that is great with custard or cream.
2 oz suet or vegetarian suet
4 oz self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Soft brown sugar
¾ 1b cooking apples
See also this recipe for Apple Almond Tart and other apple recipes from our wonderful Chilterns Tring's own Apple Fayre. The next Apple Fayre will be on 24th October as part of our Autumn Chilterns Celebration of Food and Drink - watch these news pages for more information to follow on festival events soon!
1.8 kg damsons
145 ml water
1.8 kg sugar
(Makes around 6lbs (2.7 kgs) of jam)
A traditional remedy for colds and coughs. Elder is thought to have good anti viral properties. People often take a dessertspoonful a day to prevent colds. Or 10 ml three times a day if you have a cold. Or, pour 30ml into a shot with in the bottom of a glass and have with water like a cordial, or put in some hot water for a hot drink.
(Adjust the quantities proportionately, depending how many elderberries you have collected.)
About 500g of plump, de-stalked elderberries
About 500g white caster sugar
A cinnamon stick