More and more people these days are foraging for food, especially for berries, nuts and fruit since they provide a free, fresh, healthy option in the diet and plenty of exercise in sourcing them.
Although it can be therapeutic searching for fruit, by planting your own edible hedge harvesting is made so much easier. There are many varieties of plant to choose from and a single variety of plants may be used to make a hedgerow or a mixture of plants to provide smaller quantities, but a larger variety for the kitchen.
The berries of Quickthorn or Hawthorn which forms a basis of many native hedgerows, produce large volumes of fruit, and can be used in making conserves and sometimes wine. Sloe berries of the Blackthorn are famously used in the production of sloe gin with the spent berries being combined with apples to make jam.
Elder, another prolific growing plant for hedging produces clusters of flowers in spring which if picked and tied in muslin, can be used to infuse with gooseberries or to make elderflower champagne and cordial. Once transformed into succulent purple/black berries high in vitamin C, they can be used in wine making, jams and chutneys and combined with other fruits in pies and crumbles.
Hazel is also a popular plant producing copious nuts in autumn, if you can get to them before the squirrels raid the pantry that is!
All the rose species used in hedgerows will provide luscious hips of varying size and colour depending upon the species. These are again a good source of vitamin C and used for making jellies, syrups, sauces and tea amongst other things.
Sea Buckthorn, a name that does not necessarily spring to mind instantly, is one of the current superfoods with its berries full of nutrients i.e. 14 essential vitamins, Omega’s 3,6,7 and 9 to name but a few. The juice from the berries can be used several ways including as a substitute for lemon when serving fish, as an addition to sparkling cider or champagne to make Sea Buckthorn Fizz, and to infuse in apple vinegar to name but a few.
Other hedgerow plants noted for their edible fruits are the Wild Crabapple popular for making jelly, Myrobalan or Cherry Plum eaten fresh or made into delicious jam, Wild Pear and Amelanchier or Juneberry, which has similar properties to the Blueberry. It is high in fibre and can be eaten fresh or made into beer, wine, cider or tea, jams and spreads, and can be eaten in pies too.
These are just a selection of edible wild fruits found in a hedgerow.