Could I plant my own hedgerow?
That's what I thought to myself as I looked at a wild and unkempt space in the garden. It's a thin piece of land, on the boundary, running along the vegetable patch and is full of weeds like blackberry, nettles and wild potatoes. In my mind I can picture a rambling, dense row of trees that I could tenderly nurture myself. I would plant crabapples, damsons and sloes, a rosehip, a medlar or two and even a quince.
T'would take a bit of work in the first few years, to prepare the ground before planting, protect the little trees from possums, and make sure they had plenty to drink until the hedgerow was established. But after a few years, it'd be marvellous not to have to scramble down snakey ditches on scarily busy highways to score that lovely wild fruit. It would be right there in my garden. And I dream of all the deliciousness I could preserve with the bounty.
Roadside scrambling aside, I did get a decent haul of crabapples from the garden this year, at least 10 kilos off my crooked little tree. It was so prolific, there was enough fruit for the parrots to feast on as well as enough for me, which is a very rare occurrence around here.
What to do with all the crabapples, you ask? I could pickle them I suppose, preserve some in syrup, but I just so happen to I have a copy of this new beautiful new book, Not Just Jam. A book that I had the pleasure of not only styling, but I actually wrote a lot of the recipes too, so you might say I co-authored it, or perhaps you might say I was the recipe developer. Either way, I'm as equally thrilled to have my name on the title page, and to have worked on such a gorgeous book.
Just as the title suggests, there are not just jam recipes, but pickles and sauces too. And jellies. Which brings me to the crabapples, patiently waiting to be turned into jelly. Crabapples make the best jelly, as they're so high in pectin it sets really easily, so its not too sweet, and is the most rosiest of pinks. It can be used like jam, but I like spoonful on the side of my plate with roast pork, or roast lamb to cut through the riches, a bit like apple sauce but fancier.
You can find the recipe for crab apple jelly here, along with a few others from the book. In the meantime, I'm off out to the garden to measure that space, to see if I really could plant my own hedgerow.