Transform your autumn walks into an altogether more productive and entertaining outing by foraging for ingredients to use in your own beers, wines and spirits.
This month, says wild food expert and brewer Andy Hamilton, is the ideal time to find fruits and plants among the hedgerows and use them to create home brews.
“In October, rosehips* are plentiful and they’re great in cocktails,” says Andy. “Simply boil a handful in 550ml water, strain, and then stir in 500g sugar until fully dissolved. Allow to cool, add a splash of vodka (which acts as a preservative) and refrigerate.” (Straining twice will ensure that none of the fine hairs inside the hips remain.)
Perhaps one of the easiest fruits to identify is sloes. “If you stumble upon some sloes, fill a jar with them, cover with the strongest vodka you can get hold of and seal. To make a sloe gin like no other, leave for six months, strain, then leave for another two years. Just try it without sugar, you’ll be pleasantly surprised,” Andy promises.
* Rosehips look like small red berries. They have a distinctive shape and are only found growing on rose bushes. They are not to be confused with other small red berries, which may be poisonous. Try to pick wild hips away from roads as they will be less likely to have been exposed to exhaust or other pollutants. If you pick from your own garden, make sure they are from plants that haven't been sprayed with pesticides.