Monday, 1 October 2012

Gathering in the hedgerow

The weekend gave time to get out of Cluj, countryside time. Time to look for some treats to help weather the long winter months ahead. Rosehips are the seedpods of the dog roses whose simple pink blossoms cheer the summer hedgerows. They are full of vitamin C and can be dried and brewed as tea to fortify you in the winter or chopped fresh and made into syrup to keep winter colds at bay. Alongside the rosehips were thorny sloe bushes dotted with pale blue sloe berries. These are ancestors of the cultivated plum being less fleshy and distinctly sour tasting, though they are sweeter after they have been hit by frost a few times. In England they are traditionally pricked with a fork or darning needle and steeped for 3 months in an equal quantity of gin with a little barley sugar. This makes sloe gin, a warming tipple for cold days and nights. Wild foods are considered first for their medicinal properties in Romania and sloes are renown for treating diarhoea and as a source of iron. A day in the sun with late summer butterflies (including a brown hairstreak laying her eggs on the sloe branches) to be followed with hours in the kitchen boiling and bottling.


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