One look around the kitchen today and you'll see why autumn is my favourite season of all. Right now the kitchen is filled with baskets of apples from our trees, crab apples from friends, hazelnuts, peaches and best of all damsons. Damsons, that tiny sour plum, inedible when raw, but when cooked with sugar is my favourite fruit of all.
On the weekend we headed to the midlands for a family day out. A walk, lunch in the pub and some quality family time was needed. Although this time of year I don't really notice the scenery as my eyes are peeled on the hedgerows looking for those elusive violet dusty black bonbons.
I couldn't believe my luck when I stumbled on a good 40 metres of wild damsons trees on the roadside groaning with fruit. I had found the foraging mother lode. Well equipped with secateurs, baskets and gloves - that are always kept in the car this time of year - the whole family helped me pick around 10 kg under the shadow of a gothic georgian church.
Damsons are quite a chore to prepare, a tiny plum with a pip inside, but it's worth the pain to eat this delicious fruit. Now we have truckloads of jam, we've eaten plenty of damson fools and there's a few kilos left in the freezer for ice creams, cobblers and damson gin.
Nothing makes me happier than a kitchen full of autumn's bounty. Except having it all pickled, preserved and packed into jars. I suppose I better tackle the rest of the fruit.