My gifts to you today are twofold. I am all bounteous munificence. It must be because Mother Nature’s generosity is rubbing off on me.
For my first present, I would like to pass on yet another reason why I love foraging while boating. To do this, I must refer you to my first foraging love, John Wright and his wonderful book Hedgerow. On page 15 in his How to Look section John writes, ‘Finally, a little-used hedgerow foraging technique that is my gift to you is the ‘standing on the roof of your car’ method. This is seriously effective – I once picked many kilos of plums from a tree whose lower branches had been stripped bare by less adventurous collectors. A proud moment.’ I have taken this technique to heart but adapted it for the narrowboater and I am delighted to present you with the Standing on the Roof of your Narrowboat method:
This tree was found as we left Worcester behind and headed back towards Droitwich once again. As you can see, I have tested Standing on the Roof of your Narrowboat and I think you’ll agree, it has the edge over the car roof method. For one thing, fewer traffic fumes. For another, the boat hook is to hand to bring even the highest branches within reach. Plus, the average boat roof is considerably sturdier than the average car roof. So hurrah for boaty foraging!
Of course, there’s also no distance to carry your harvest home. Which may be just as well. Within about ten minutes I had filled my basket:
In total I’d gathered over seven kilos! Some frantic recipe searching and adapting was in order. I decided to double the quantity of Cherry Plumbeena, make a batch of chutney, start a Narrowboat Rumtopf and bottle the remainder. The quantities involved have stretched my facilities and so I have had to improvise:
The end results promise to be good. Which brings me on to my second gift: the recipe for Cherry Plumbeena, adapted from Pam Corbin’s in Preserves.
Makes about 1.5 litres
2kg cherry plums
Place cherry plums in a large saucepan with water. Gradually bring to the boil crushing the cherry plums with the back of a wooden spoon, a potato masher or, as in my case, a pint glass. Cook gently until the fruit is soft and juicy – up to 45mins. Remove from heat.
Scald a muslin or jelly bag and set cherry plum mix to drip overnight.
Measure juice & pour into clean pan. For every litre of juice add 700g sugar. Heat gently to dissolve then remove from heat. Pour immediately into warm sterilised bottles adding 1-3tbsp brandy (depending on taste & size of bottle) to each bottle. Seal.
Will keep for for several months if sealed when hot & stored in a cool place.