This article appeared in Style of Wight Magazine in September 2013:
Autumn: The Most Fruitful Time of The Year
It's hard to mourn Summer's passing when Autumn promises such extravagant abundance in every tree, garden and hedgerow. Fruit trees, laden with their ripe bounty, beg to be picked and transformed into sweet, sticky puddings and preserves. Hedges glisten with shiny blackberries and tiny, wild strawberries; both best eaten raw but, if you can wait, a treat in pies, jams and cordials.
Throughout the Isle of Wight's lush countryside, edible treats that never make it into the shops are freely available - and I'm sure I'm not alone in finding a little gentle foraging infinitely more enjoyable than a walk down any supermarket aisle.
The perennially popular blackberry is one of the earliest and commonest fruits of the Autumn harvest. From August onwards, these jet black jewels can be found adorning rural and urban hedgerows alike and will continue to flourish right through to mid-October. If you haven't eaten them all before you get home, you'll need to cook or freeze them straight away, as blackberries don't last even a day in the fridge.
Considerably smaller than the cultivated fruit, wild strawberries are relatively common, though they don't tend to grow in any great quantity. Look out for them woven through hedgerows and bushes, or scattered low in dappled woodland clearings. But don't get excited about making wild strawberry jams or tarts as you'll be hard-pushed to collect enough. Instead, enjoy them as a delicious mid-forage snack or use as singular edible decorations.
Sometimes called 'the strawberries of autumn' because of their flavour when cooked or made into a syrup, rosehips are incredibly rich in vitamin C. The glossy red, oval berries of the Japanese Rose have a fondness for coastal locations and can be found in hedgerows from August until late November - if you can reach them before the birds do!
A sub-species of plum, damsons are foraging gold. The purple or green fruits grow at the edge of woods and near hedgerows. If you find a well-stocked tree, keep a close eye on it and pick the fruit the minute they are ripe enough - sometime between September and October.
Last updated 13:35 on 7 September 2018