This is just a wee mid week update to let yez know all about a wild berry expedition I went on the other day. Late afternoon Monday to be precise, a couple of miles from Bray – Ed Hick led the way.
You know when you go to a Chinese or Indian takeaway and they serve your grub in those clear plastic boxes? Well you can buy them in euro-shops and I used them to store all the berries we went on the hunt for. 90 minutes of labour later and I filled 15 of those boxes – with a nice range of totally wild and totally FREE berries.
This was my entire haul, I tried to make it look like one of those Garda drugs confiscation things you see on Crimeline. “The patrol car caught up with the youths on the Naas Dual Carriageway and confiscated over €200, 000 of illegal substances.” Except all that’s laid out is a kilo of hash, a bag of yokes and a load of glucose to cut their shit coke with.
First up is the elderberries. This is 5 takeaway boxes worth. You just pick them by the sprig, one clump at a time. There is fucking shitloads everywhere folks, like ALL OVER the shop. They taste kinda like a blackcurrant at first but then you get that distinct taste that comes with elderflower – hardly surprising considering they are the same plant. I’ll be making a syrup out of most of these to throw into Elderberry Royales and other alcoholic delights. They’ll also be going into a pear tart.
Blackberries – again, everywhere. Surprisingly only half seemed to be ripe and ready to rock, which is cool I suppose, coz I intend to go back for more. They’re going into a bottle of clear rum.
Rosehips – these fuckers left me with a couple of cuts. Plenty of sharp thorns on their branches. Bring garden gloves if you wanna give this picking malarkey a go. I wanted to include these in a multiple berry jam that Ed made last year and said was amazing. But my dearly beloved plans to use them for medicinal purposes. Apparently they have some great healing properties, I wouldn’t know anything about that kinda shite. But herself does.
Hawthorn berries – all over the hedges that surround fields. They need to be cooked down and mixed with sugar. My initial taste is telling me they could go well muddled with gin. But I could well be mistaken. Maybe a blended whiskey.
Rowan berries – you don’t even have to go to Wicklow to get these bad boys. They’re all over the canal and most parks. There are even two trees growing right outside the Crumlin Fire Brigade. We picked these right off the main road. They will be headed for the jam pots.
Sloe berries – these were the most difficult to find and to pick. But fuck me it’s totally worth it. Sloe gin is one of the nicest drinks I’ve ever tasted, even just neat on it’s own. I have no idea why it is not more readily available or commercialized.
So anyhoop, these berries can be found all over the country. It’s great craic picking them. It’s a nice vibe if you can get a gang out with you. And they cost fuck all.
This was my first time picking all these and once I knew what I was doing and looking for – it became so easy. Think back to the first time you went picking mushies and you turn round to your mates going, “I don’t see any? Just fucking grass lads!!??” Until you had that eureka moment and you find your first one and realize that they are in fact everywhere. That’s what it was like for me with the berries.
There are no secret locations either. Many of these trees were planted to keep cattle from wandering out of their fields and have been there for yonks. And that’s why as soon as you hit the countryside, you just can’t stop seeing berries. Of course, to a pleasure seeking hedonist like my dear self – it does mean that picking hysteria can kick in quite easily and all of a sudden you feel like an out of place crack whore on the hunt for a fix. So give yourself a time frame to operate in, we said we’d have to be back for dinner. 90 minutes was grand in the end, but I could have definitely done more.