I think I first wrote about our love of foraging six years ago, when there was an apple glut and we were about to review a juicer (handy). So when Robinson’s got in touch and asked if we’d like to forage for a new flavour Fruit Shoot, it was an easy yes for us (apart from anything else, as home educators, we’re always looking for new things to learn, and this was a fab way to get 10yr old Bear out into the woods and brush up on some plant names).
We were tasked with finding some new wild fruits to create a new flavour of Fruit Shoot – easy peasy. We live in the depths of rural Dorset, and are surrounded by fabulous hedgerows and wild open spaces.
I realised we were a bit off with the timing – too late for wild strawberries, too early for the autumnal harvest of apples etc. I know the sloes are ripe early this year, but they’re so mouth-puckeringly sour they’re only good for drowning in gin and sugar. Really not ideal for a kids drink! But there’s usually something about, and I remained optimistic about the wild raspberry crop in the local woods.
And then it rained.
For two weeks.
Honestly – nightmare. Getting a pre-teen out on a ‘fun’ walk is a small struggle sometimes, but getting them out in the lashing rain? Yeah, not a chance if you want a smiling photograph and helpful participation rather than a slouching surly child constantly half a mile behind.
But this weekend the rain finally took a break, and we grabbed our chances to head out with a basket to see what we could find.
And lo, just a few short paces from where we parked the car was a collection of wild plum trees, still laden with gorgeous fruit.
Lots too high for us, but we still managed a decent haul of two different types of wild plum – the small red slightly tart Wild Cherry Plum, and Mirabelle, the even tinier but sweet juicy bright yellow ones that are no bigger than the top of my thumb.
Reluctantly leaving the plum crop behind, we headed deeper into the woods towards the wild raspberries. The brief glimpse of sunshine we’d enjoyed while we picked the plums had faded, and the clouds were gathering but we forged on, thinking we’d have plenty enough time to reach the raspberry patch.
Turns out, we were overly-ambitious on the weather front – twenty minutes stroll down the track… and the heavens opened. The clouds burst and we had to make a sudden run for cover.
Honestly – it suddenly LASHED down.
We waited it out, but it just didn’t stop. Eventually it slowed enough to walk through without drowning – but by then we were chilly, damp through and really not feeling like going on much deeper into the woods for the wild raspberries. They’d just have to wait for another day.
Fortunately, though, as we waited out the rain, we noticed we were sheltering right beside a large overgrown clump of bramble, and there were first hints of berries ripening.
Well, hoorah for those.
They’re not plentiful yet, there’s just not been enough sunshine for them to ripen. But enough had turned the glossy back for us to pick a few handfuls – and thanks to the damp weather they were beautifully plump and juicy!
So with a basket filled plentifully with cherry plums, Mirabelle plums and as many of the scant blackberries as we could gather, we headed back to the car.
And despite the weather, we’d had such a lot of fun. Invisibly present behind the camera is 16yr old Boy – he pretty much refuses to be in front of the camera, but he loves walking in rainy weather (that’s what a childhood spent holidaying in Wales does for you), and we all spent a ridiculous hour or so sploshing in our wellies, shaking wet branches over each other’s heads, scoffing wild plums and shoving each other into soggy bushes. The dog had a lovely stretch, and the fresh damp air was exactly what we all needed after too many days stuck indoors.
And so. Our new FruitShoot?
Bear officially named it ‘Wild Plumberry’.
And let me tell you, it’s delicious.
(And if you’ve never seen wild plums, and think I’m joking about how small they are? Here…)
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