Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Scrumping...

Scrumping isn't what it used to be when we were children.  For a start, we can no longer climb trees!

Coming back from a walk the other day, we noticed a disused orchard full of ready and developing apples and blackberries. Now it is one thing to pick fruit from the countryside, it is entirely another to go scrumping (aka entering property that may or may not still be owned to pick fruit).

Some call it stealing, but as a child, climbing over a garden wall or fence was a dare. Dare you do it and risk being caught! That was the fun of it. We didn't consider it stealing and as a child, we never entered anyone's back garden, only the overgrown gardens of long ago forgotten properties.

This orchard seemed one of those. Although it is near a huge house, we know that the house has a fully productive and well used orchard, so believe this one wasn't in use or indeed owned by anyone.

Anyhow, despite it being quite a warm and muggy morning, we donned long sleeves and trousers, packed bags and containers into a rucksack, along with some secateurs and waterproof coats and off we went. Access into this orchard was via a stream bed, which luckily for us, was relatively dry. The tree we were after was less than 30 feet away but boy, was it surrounded by its own armed forces!

We cut two sturdy branches to make beating sticks and ploughed our way in. Despite being dressed for protection, I am afraid the 6 foot high nettles and 10 foot or so high brambles eventually got the better of us. I had bravely sent DB up front :) and could hear him ouching as he went.

Thick trails of goose grass and biting insects began the second tier of defence. By now we were boiling hot and decided it was not such a good idea after all. See, as children, absolutely nothing would have deterred us!

After half an hour or so (we really needed machete's) we managed to get to some brambles. These were huge, not the normal medium sized ones we generally pick. No, these were the size that are similar to pick your own. They just fell off. Here they are after being rinsed in vinegar water to get the bugs out, on a tray waiting to go in the freezer.
We had managed to pick and freeze 1lb 9oz - so not too bad.

Onto the apples. After several diversions to avoid the forest of bramble plants, we eventually managed to reach the apple tree. One hour in and we were finally there - hooray. Short lived happiness though as they were almost too high. Eventually, with a final determined push (and yelp) from DB, he reached a few. After nearly and hour and a quarter, we had had enough and trod wearily along the paths we had created. We only managed to get a couple of pounds of apples but they taste lovely. No idea what variety they are.
After a bath and scrub down, we had a cup of tea and decided not to bother again. I know where there are wild apples and pears to gather more easily, so we shall do that.

Unfortunately, DB came out in hives that had nothing to do with nettles and spent the rest of the day very uncomfortable. No matter how much you love someone, there comes a point when either they say no or you say it for them. The relief on his face was palpable!

That's another thing about getting older, no matter what your brain tells you, you can still do, invariably you can't. Thank goodness we didn't try to climb any trees is all I can say. Ah well.

Once home we decided to have some of them to eat. Using the weight of 2 eggs as a basis for a small Victoria sandwich cake (weight of 2 eggs, same of S. R. Flour, same of margarine and 2 tablespoons less of some sugar) a sponge was made. Then one of the apples was peeled, cored and grated into the mix. This was put into a lightly greased dish and some frozen brambles pushed into it.
It was then baked until done. I should have cooked it at a slightly lower temperature as it caught around its edges. Still, half between us with some custard was lovely.
We finished it off another day.

Compared to harvesting in the wild, doing so at home is far less traumatic. Here are a few things
recently harvested from the garden (we don't have a greenhouse as such).
Back left are the first few large tomatoes, Fantasio. Front left are the tomatillo's - the paler ones are those that dropped off by themselves so guess the plant is trying to tell me something - never had that happen before. On the right are 3 different beans. One runner and two climbing French, one of which Cobra, was courtesy of my win from Compostwoman!





13 comments:

  1. We picked just a couple of handfuls of blackberries on our walk on the Sandringham Estate last week - I trust the Queen won't mind! Please send food packages if I am sent to the Tower xx

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    1. We occasionally pick up pine cones or twigs when we go over there. I do have a tendency though to keep looking over my shoulder!

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  2. There are very few wild blackberries around here this year, presume lack of rain. I would love to find a hidden garden like that, though it sounds a bit prickley.

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    1. Same here in general and I think you are right, lack of rain! Can't win can we? Certainly got scratched quite badly, DB more than me.

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  3. Oh DC you do make me laugh. I have visions of you all on an adventure of some kind, dressed for battle and bravely entering an unknown territory, eyes and ears tuned in for anyone spotting you and dobbing you in. More like something out of Enid Blyton's Famous Five books! Hope you enjoyed the fruits of your labour - the cake certainly looked good.
    Patricia x

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    1. Well, it was very nice and we still have some apples left. Life at this stage has to be about adventures doesn't it?

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  4. My parents wouldn't think twice about scrumping. Whenever we are out they are on the look out. Hazelnuts, Damsons, Sloes, Fruit Trees that no one is interested in harvesting.

    Now they have a local farmer who allows them to glean after he has harvested. They pick up bag fulls of '2nds'.

    Good on them, I say. 2 war children, brought up in the countryside.

    Sft x

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    1. I am currently keeping an eye on some wild damsons, not more than 50 feet away from our front door. Just hoping no one else nabs them!

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  5. I had better luck with my foraging a few days ago. No scrambling through undergrowth was required at all. I just had to get off my bicycle ever so often to stop and start picking blackberries right by the side of my cycle track. I came home with 3 1/2 lb of lovely blackberries, then had a jam making session with a friend, mixing apples and blackberries.

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    1. I have a friend with a crab apple plus cooking apple tree. Must go and visit for some apples. Saw your making activities, looked great.

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  6. I did laugh at your fruit picking expedition. It's even worse than my blackberry picking at the end of my garden which entails forcing myself and a ladder into a small space between fence and shed and after picking from the ladder, climbing onto the shed roof and inching along trying not to spill the box. I am over 60 but still quite agile and can't bear to let the fruit go to waste. But I agree your efforts were a bit much. I enjoy your blog but haven't got mine up and running yet.

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    1. Glad I made you laugh Jean. Hate going up a ladder but I might have preferred your harvesting to ours!

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  7. We've been foraging a couple of times this week. Picked apples and blackberries on public National Trust land yesterday up on the cliffs at Dover (we walked there so no parking charges, so all was absolutely free), and more blackberries just up the road from our house today. Made a blackberry and apple crumble served with custard. We've picked about 6lbs of blackberries over the past week-10days, most of which are in the freezer. I can't believe people pay £2 for a 200g punnet when there are berries to be had all over town for free.

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