Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Foraged woodland jam

Wild redcurrants
 We live near an ancient woodland which has such an abundance of wild food ... every year I'm making a big effort to learn to identify new plants for both medicine and food, new uses for the plants and also making sure I try more and more wild foods.

We stumbled across a patch of wild redcurrants recently. A says there are several known Roman villas around the area so it's completely possible that these are the decendants of a two-thousand year old fruit garden ... who knows? I don't suppose we can ever really be sure.
Wild raspberries
 The woodland lanes are lined with brambles, bursting with flowers and embryo blackberries and also with wild raspberries which are full of fruit. Today, we spent two and a half excellent hours strolling through the lanes gathering all the ripe raspberries we could find. We added a handful of cherries we passed and then headed off to the redcurrant patch.
Wild strawberries the size of redcurrants 
 A usually has an excellent sense of direction (unlike me, I just follow him!) but today he had real trouble finding the redcurrants whereas yesterday we walked straight there! After two attempts to find them I wondered if something was telling us not to pick them after all. We decided to give it one more try and then, if we still didn't stumble across them, we'd give up. We walked up a path we wouldn't usually and found a wild strawberry plant ... the redness of these tiny little berries can't be exaggerated and the taste explosion they give is amazing! This find was followed by another and another and soon the path was lined on both sides with the plants ... We realised we'd been spun about and Faery-led to the strawberries :~)
Handful of wild strawberries
 After gathering handfuls of the strawberries, we discovered the redcurrants easily and added those to the pot aswell. When we arrived home, I washed and weighed the berries ... 1 1/2 lbs! Definitely enough for a woodland jam.
Woodland berries in the weighing pan
 Foraged woodland jam recipe

1 1/2lb mixed wild berries (though you could of course use bought or grown ones) such as raspberries, redcurrants, strawberries and cherries with the stones removed
1 lb 14 oz jam sugar (with the added pectin)
Knob of butter

Wash plenty of jars and place on a tray in the oven at gas mark 1/2 - 1 to heat through. Place the washed and drained berries in a large pan and crush with a potato masher. Add the sugar and heat gently until completely dissolved. Add a knob of butter. Increase heat and slowly bring to a rolling boil (it will continue boiling even when stirred) and boil for 4 minutes. Pour into hot jars and seal immediately. Leave to cool.
Finished woodland jam

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