When the seasons begin to change, none change quite so dramatically as Autumn…
At Daffy’s HQ we think that Autumn is the most romantic season of all. Log fires, the brilliant golds, oranges and reds of the changing leaves along with nature’s bounty of apples, blackberries and other plentiful harvests.
The days may be getting shorter but there is still so much to see and do and gather come Autumn, both for the table and for making gin. At Daffy’s distillery at Strathamashie in the Highlands this is the time of year when we, along with guests at our Gin School, all wrap up warm and hit the hills!
Foraging in Autumn can often be quite challenging amongst all the colours and fallen leaves. Sharp eyes are needed to ensure that nothing is missed as some of the usual ground-growing suspects may not always be as obvious.
If the Autumn has started mild, then the berries will still be on the hawthorn and rowan trees. Once the colder weather comes in so does the winter visitors, Waxwings and Fieldfares make short work of stripping the trees of their waxy red berries. Best policy is to get in early but leave a generous share of the crops behind for our feathered friends.
Looking ground wards, the chickweed, common sorrel and yarrow are still in abundance but may be trickier to spot. Keep an eye out for dandelions, although the leaves are past their best at this time of year, the roots, when roasted, can be used as an alternative for coffee.. an acquired taste but interesting to try and said to be and top digestive aid and an effective skin toner too.
The juniper bushes, well known for being prickly, are definitely worth picking. A few of these ticking time bombs of flavour liven up any gamey casserole and they are of course vital for gin making and infusions. Best technique is to put down a catching ground sheet or two and gently but firmly whack the bushes with a large stick!
To add a bite to a salad or to get the taste buds going when out walking, try a leaf of wood sorrel, these beautiful heart shaped leaves have a zingy lemon hit, well worth trying.
The Dog Rose and Japanese Rose produce fabulous vibrant red rose hips. You can’t miss them and they have multiple uses from jellies, syrups and sauces, so if you find them, get picking!
Now that you have been out and embraced the fresh air you can now think about the night ahead and the rewards from being out on an Autumn day- a refreshing D&T sitting surrounded by your foraging baskets while mulling over some top notch food and drink ideas! The feel good factor of a bit of exercise and clean air, the memories from the changing Autumnal colours and knowing that there will be a good night’s sleep ahead.