At the end of every month I join several other people on a ‘Green Walk’. The idea is that we look at different, green parts of the city of Exeter. I enjoy getting to know parts of the city that I had no idea existed. Often there is a theme to the walk which has included observing wildlife and going foraging with Robin Harford. If you wish to know more about Green Walks, then do join the Facebook page
This month the theme was fruit foraging. We were looking for blackberries and other berries to pick as well as having an invitation to a private garden with a surplus of apples and pears.
At the beginning of the walk, a dark cloud and a shower of rain threatened to spoil the afternoon. However, as can often happen in this country, the sun soon came out and as the photographs show, we had one of those afternoons that illustrate just how good a British summer can be!!
Walking And Talking
We had a splendid time! Walking, talking and sharing cooking and preserving tips and food stories. One of the aims of the walk, possibly the most important is for people to meet with each other and chat – and there is always plenty of interesting conversations going on. It is also perfectly possible to break away from the group too for some quiet reflection. The Green Walks own mascot dog kept us keeping up the pace!
Armed with bags, old ice cream containers and assorted boxes, we set off in hope and expectation of a fruitful walk! Blackberries were the first edibles that we encountered and they certainly varied in quality – from the red to the over ripe, from the huge and sweet to the small and sour. I picked a few that have subsequently found their way into an apple and blackberry crumble.
Next to come under our scrutiny was an apple tree where I gathered a huge number of apples, making the week ‘apple week’ when it comes to cooking. I have Bramley apples as well as eating apples. I have already made Apple Cake and I will be foraging for interesting apple recipes – do let me know if you have any wonderful recipes. Apple Snow is a favourite from my childhood. Making Apple Chutney will be a new experience for me too.
On our travels we also encourntered sloes and some of the party will be making sloe gin. Another person collected some vine leaves – I am looking forward to collecting his recipe for stuffed vine leaves! Elderberries were looking good and elderberry wine was definitely on the agenda for some.
A fig tree held everyone’s attentions as, happily, there were some ripe figs on the tree. They were absolutely delicious and we commented that they are very different from ‘fig roll biscuits’ which have been some people’s only encounter with the fruit. If you ever get the chance to try a fresh fig, I do recommend that you take it. It was amazing, really, to be able to eat a fig grown in this country as they are really a fruit from the warmer climes of the Mediterranean or Middle East. According to the Wikipedia article on figs, it was one of the first fruits to be cultivated by humans! They are also exceedingly nutritious, being particularly high in calcium.
It does seem a shame that when there are such plentiful apples all around us that the supermarkets are still buying apples from far flung places, increasing our carbon footprint. Wherever possible do try to buy local.
Exeter also has the’Harvest’ project which enables people to share surplus stock. Many towns and cities have similar projects.
It was an enjoyable walk and we are all looking forward to sharing some recipes and tasting the fruits of our labour!