About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Foraged Food Friday: Rowan berries

There's a rowan tree in my garden that has very pretty berries. We can see them from the bedroom window.

Rowan tree (Sorbus aucuparia)

Though pretty, these berries are not easy to pick, as the tree is tall and growing on a steep slope. Luckily, there are plenty of others around, so I don't have to go far to find one that has more accessible berries. These are not the kind of berries you'd want to eat straight from the tree. Although edible (apparently there's a small quantity of some toxin, but it's destroyed by cooking), they're bitter, but they do have an interesting flavour, so it's worth doing something with them.

Last year, my friend Gill introduced me to the idea of crab apple and rowan jelly. I tried making some then and was very impressed with it, so that went firmly on the list of things to make again. This year I duly made another batch, and the result is just as good.

Rowan jelly with a nice bit of Caerphilly

I'm also experimenting with rowan wine...

Rowan berry wine, or at least it will be in about a year

... which I'll be able to tell you about in a year or so. I roughly followed the recipe published in The Guardian, except that I didn't add grape juice (so I'd expect a thinner flavour) or any of the other additives (because I seem to get OK wine without them), so my recipe was:

  • 4 lb rowan berries
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 1/2 lb sugar
  • water up to one gallon
  • yeast from blackberry wine (so a hint of blackberry in here, too)
I put the berries in a bucket, poured boiling water over them, mashed them up with a potato masher, added the sugar and lemon juice then filled up with cold water to about a gallon and finally added the yeast. I then left for a few days (I can't remember exactly, probably four days) before straining the liquid off the fruit and into a demijohn. I'll leave that for about a year, by which time it should have long since stopped fermenting and cleared, then siphon into bottles.

This is my standard method for making wine, varying only how long I leave it to mature. I seek advice on how long wines need before they're drinkable - at about a year, rowan is one of the longer ones. By contrast, blackberry wine is reckoned to be ready, by Christmas.

Comments on the flavour of rowan wine vary from, An acquired taste, to, Like dry sherry. Well, I quite like sherry, but even if it's not much like that, I think I should make an effort to acquire the taste just for the sake of the colour!

Also harvesting this week
Charcoal burners (brittlegill mushrooms)
Parsnips (mostly tiny thinnings though it's probably too late for those left behind to benefit from the extra space)
French beans (actual beans now, not the whole pods, which is how I was harvesting them earlier)

Also eating
Blackberry vinegar

Also drinking
Dandelion flower tea

Foraged food challenge summary page here.

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