Stoke Newington walk and jam making workshop, 8th August 2015
Despite the unexpected closure of Clissold Park (due to a police incident) Saturday’s walk and workshop was a resounding success! We skirted the edges of the park, peering over longingly at the Cherry plums, the Mahonia bushes and the Sloes that were out of our reach. Joan, an expert forager and walk participant also pointed out Gingko Biloba trees on the housing estate next to the park, and told us about their fruit (which smell like vomit apparently) and the prized ‘nut’ contained therein. More here on these. Our diverted route took us up Green Lanes, and onto the New River path behind the Castle climbing centre – where we stopped for out first picking – Elderberries. Onto the New River path itself – which is absolutely laden with blackberries. We spent around half an hour slowly moving along the path, collecting berries and chatting. Joan points out St John’s Wort, and we notice that the elder here is nowhere near ripe – the ones on Green Lanes must get a lot more sun. As we arrive at Woodberry Down (a strange juxtaposition of bizarrely unreal looking new flats and the hoarded up remains of the old estate, some of which is being demolished for us live by 3 large JCBs) we divert momentarily to a plum tree, and make use of Linda’s fantastic picking stick to harvest some of the nearly ripe fruit. We reach Lordship Road and decide to wiggle back towards the kitchen, rather than continuing along the east reservoir. On these streets we find more Elder, and Rowanberries too. After a quick introduction to the kitchen we make some plans as to how we want to transform the produce that we’ve collected. Blackberries dominate! But we have some apples too that Charlotte has brought from her garden, and some extras that Blake and Leighanne pop out to collect from a tree overhanging Church Street. We settle on: A pure blackberry jam; a blackberry and apple jam, a blackberry ‘cheese’, an apple and plum chutney, and apple, plum and blackberry chutney, a rowan and apple jelly, and an ‘everything’ or ‘East End’ jam, made with a little bit of everything that we collected. prepping fruit The blackberry and apple jam is the first to achieve a ‘set’ – Scott does the honours, pouring the first batch of jars. Trying to resist a squeeze of the jelly bag! Though Elizabeth David advises it for Rowan jelly, we are cautious as most other sources say it results in a cloudy jelly. The fruits of our labours!