This is what the hedgerows look like around our area here in the north of Tasmania. They are thick with hawthorn berries and sloes that look delicious and inviting but are in fact inedible from the bush and very tart. These thorny hedges were introduced to Tasmania (probably brought from England) as a way of fencing stock.
In the above photo you see hawthorn berries (red) and sloe berries (blue and dusky very much in looks like a blueberry) and are best picked after the first few frosts which improves their flavour and ensures they are ripe.
At our last Living Better meeting we were lucky to have one of our group take us through the process of making sloe wine. Imbuing gin with sloes is commonly done but making the wine less so. She also had a bottle for us to try and the flavour was really interesting. The longer it cellars the better it gets and is described to be more like a port as it ages. When she sends us the instructions I shall share them here too but it was quite a simple process of fermenting the mass in a brewing bucket with an air lock. Picking the sloes is probably the most consuming but a family effort is the thing.
Another in our group spoke about his experiences last year with making "Haw-Sin Sauce" using the River Cottage recipe here. You can see the hawthorn berries in the bottom of the basket there in the picture above, just a small bunch nestled beneath the rosehips and sloes. He felt the recipe was a bit too sweet for his taste and would experiment with less sugar next time.
Another recipe I found that sounds good especially as we have loads of ripened chillies at the moment is one for a "Chilli Hawthorn Dipping Sauce" and I happen to know where I can get some Bramley apples too though I should think Grannies would also do.
Of course my winter favourite is the rose hip cordial full of vitamin C and childhood memories. The recipe is here or if you have the cookbook it is on page 35. I love to have small bottles of this on stand by also for sick friends and enjoy it added to hot water before bedtime.
Our Living Better group meets again on the 30th May (always the last Thursday in the month). We have one in the group presenting "Cleaning Without Chemicals" and another demonstrating the art of "water divining".
In June on the 27th we will be sharing recipes and advice for common winter ailments, from the common cold to chapped lips and dry eyes.