The hedgerow is absolutely teeming with delights at this time of year - a real treat for the wild-food forager.
The wild blackberries, or brambles are prolific here. I have already collected a bowlful which are now in my freezer, ready to add to autumnal crumbles. Remember to wash blackberries thoroughly and soak in a mixture of salt-water and lemon juice, which will draw out any 'wild things' you've brought home with them.
Elder trees are now teeming with umbrellas of dark berries. You may remember my post earlier this year about the healing properties of the elderflower. The berry is equally useful as an immuno-stimulant, rich in antioxidants and vitamin c, very much like blackcurrants. It also acts as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory, making it useful for urinary tract infections. Take care, however, as the raw berries contain toxins which break down with heat - so make sure you cook them before eating. Come back to visit, for an elderberry and apple jam recipe, next time.
The dark blue sloes of the blackthorn are now beginning to appear. These make a fantastic treat infused in gin. However, they are best left until after the first frost so we will have more on sloe picking later in the year.
Rose hips from the wild rose or dog rose are another rich source of vitamin c and make a nourishing tea.
At this time of year you can also find haws from the hawthorn in the hedgerow, windfalls of sharp crab apples for making jellies and jams, and some of you may also be lucky enough to discover wild raspberries growing as well.
Although the hedgerow can provide us with a cornucopia of nourishing autumnal fruits, please remember that we are not the only ones who will be making use of them. Birds, insects and small animals consider the hedgerow their only food source, so while it is a fun activity for us to go berry picking, please don't take more than you need.