Saturday, 5 September 2009
Go forth and find it.
For the past few weeks I've been out for a couple of hours each weekend to a patch of wild parkland near the canal in Hanwell, London W7. First it was the blackberries, then the plums, and last weekend more plums - 14lb of them - plus a few straggling brambles, a bag of apples and aother of pears which were just ripe enough to cook. This week, if it's not too wet, I'll get back to the pear tree (you have to clamber under the hawthorn tree tunnel but it's not impossible, just a bit of a challenge.
To be surrounded by more fruit that I could carry, without even having to stretch up on tiptoes, filled me with such fundamental happiness that it took me a while to calm down and start picking. Spending Bank Holiday Monday evening in the kitchen, turning it all into crumble base, puree, compote and finally, by Tuesday lunchtime, fruit leathers, was one of the simple pleasures that you hear people talking about theoretically but find difficult to pin down. So if it's not raining, and you have a patch of wild land nearby (or you know someone with a fruit tree in the garden) go grab some.
Cooking it is not hard. Put a small amount of water in a pan (1cm or so) with a load of fruit and a some sugar if you like. Put the lid on and stick them over a very low heat until it's all gone soft. Watch it or it'll bubble over and put sticky red goo all over your oven. (Did that.) Eat it. You can do exciting things with it involving pastry, syllabubs, sauces or savouries. Be as inventive as you like. In modern life we've lost the plot when it comes to remembering what really makes us content; harvesting is one of the good guys.