Foraging and Jamming E15

On Saturday 10th August I lead a foraging walk around Stratford High Street. We met on the Greenway and walked south a little way along it – gathering apples and elderberry, before turning down into Abbey Lane park, picking blackberries on the slope down from the greenway, and along the back hedge of the park too. We looped back up to the high street, pausing for crab apples at the corner of Abbey Lane and Bisson Road.

Using the picking sticks to gather crab apples

We crossed to the other side of the Greenway, marvelling at an enormous fig tree there (with tiny unripe fruit). Along this side of the path there were many ‘hedgerow’ fruits to gather – more crabapples, hawthorn and blackberries too. Crossing down past Pudding Mill Lane we went up the slope towards the Olympic Park and the View Tube (along with West Ham supporters arriving for the match) and picked sloes, apples and rosehips on the bank there. On the Olympic Park side of the view tube a huge bank of blackberries provided us with another haul of fruit. We skirted the bottom of the park, crossing the Lea and then exiting via Carpenters road. We zigzagged through Carpenters Estate – again full of football fans – and picked some beautifully ripe Japanese rose hips, and some dog rose hips too.

Our fruit harvest: apples, rosehips, sloes, elderberries, hawthorn and blackberries

By the time we arrived at the kitchen we had around 10 kilos of fruit! We decided to make a jam (blackberry and apple) a chutney (apple, blackberry, elderberry) and two jellies (a crab apple, and a ‘hedgerow’ with sloe, rosehip, apple and hawthorn). We split up into groups to get working on washing and preparing the fruit, with lots of chopping, peeling and coring. Although our giant pans of preserves were slow to get going on the stove we managed to produce over 80 jars of jam, jelly and chutney!

East End Jam – in the kitchen at UEL, getting the jam into jars