Wild Berry Foraging

Each year, once I’ve gotten over the devastation that the summer is definitely over, or in our case this year in Ireland, that we are not actually getting one, I relax into Autumn, a favourite season of mine and all it has to offer.

In past posts I have mentioned my trips to Killruddery House & Gardens, well being a season member, I recently received an email from Killruddery inviting me to take part in a wild berry foraging and jam making session!! I was so excited and immediately booked a place for myself and friend Belinda (of Belinda’s Burger fame!!)

The format for the day was that together with Ed Hick (Slow Food Guru) we would walk through The Killruddery Estate to find, identify and pick a range of wild berries such as blackberries, rowan berries, rose-hip, elder and haw.

Well a mini disaster struck in that I managed to injure my back and hip during an over zealous walk up Killiney Hill! This meant that I was unable to attend the foraging session :O(

However, Belinda did go and the photos, information and most importantly, pot of jam are courtesy of her hard days work! Thanks Belinda, I am forever indebted to you!

With spectacular weather for foraging and after the initial session on what to pick and what not pick, the group headed out on their expedition. With over 18 acres of land to cover, they had a challenge ahead.

In addition, with the absence of sun for much of the summer this year, the berry crop was somewhat diminished and in fact the crab apple crop was non existent. This obviously was going to have an impact on the jam making later, as crab apples are a good source of pectin when making jam with berries that are low in pectin. However, this did not alter the exuberance of the berry pickers.After the walk, everyone convened in the Studio Stables for a demonstration in traditional jam making, again with Ed Hick.  All berries gathered on the day were contributed to the big jam making pot. But before this could happen, it was all hands on deck as the berries were sorted and prepared.

Initially the rose hip berries were boiled in water in order to extract the juices from them, which in turn was added to the prepared berries. This is something I would never have considered doing.

To recap, the wild berries used were blackberries, rowan berries, rose-hip, elder and haw. The sugars used were, regular castor sugar combined with a Mexican raw cane sugar

(this is the dark sugar in the photo which has a treacly flavour) and an Indian raw cane sugar. Both of which were bought in the Asian Market in Dublin.

Once the jam was made it was tasting time, there were lots of sticky fingers about!

Ed explained that because of the absence of crab apples the jam would probably remain quite runny.

The jam was then poured into sterilised jars and each forager received one, two or three pots to take home and scoff.

So as I stayed at home nursing my sore back, Belinda arrived on her bike with very wet feet and my still warm pot of jam!

Jam which is bursting with robust, berriness, and choc-a-block with fruit. I thought it best to get this post written before I had eaten the lot and would have no evidence of it ever existing.

As you can see I’ve eaten half the pot already, all by myself!

 One of my favourite childhood treats, bread and jam.

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5 Responses to Wild Berry Foraging

  1. Brenda says:

    Yum……….. great photos too – there is NOTHING like home made jam x

  2. That looks like such a fun event and I’ve always wanted to go foraging with someone who knew what they were doing. Take good care of your back, Rhoda, and I’m so sorry you injured it and couldn’t make the event.

  3. Pingback: Wild Garlic Pesto | Rhoda Kirwan

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