You don’t have a garden burgeoning with fruit or even an allotment, but you can still have a harvest festival and even better – a stonking good harvest supper. Have a look at what’s growing in your window box or the garden and even if there’s nothing you can always go out foraging. Bring your basket!
This is the time of year when Clare Flynn starts rambling on about ‘the season of mellow fruitfulness’ and it’s impossible to get out of many people’s houses without a jar of home made jam or pickle being pressed upon you.
It’s also the time of year when, if you haven’t got a glut of courgettes or a super-abundance of apples, you could feel distinctly out of place. Well… no more!
Think small… like, window ledge
I’m reclaiming the Harvest Festival for those of use who don’t run to much more than a couple of tomato plants or some window sill herbs. Rocket and basil both make a great ingredient for home made pesto, which is not only good with pasta but also makes the base for salad dressings, or can be spread as an alternative to butter in your sandwiches.
Rocket and walnut pesto
- 40glightly toasted walnuts
- 40g rocket leaves
- half a teaspoon of good quality salt
- 40g grated parmesan
- 50ml extra virgin olive oil
- Lightly toast the walnuts in a pan or in the oven, grind them in a blender or with a pestle and mortar.
- Then add the roughly chopped rocket and mash it together to make a course puree.
- Add the cheese and oil and continue to mix until smooth. Can be stored in a jar in the fridge for about a week.
Foraging for your harvest
I’m also banging the gong for good old fashioned foraging. My mate Bill picked his own weight in apples last week on a bike ride that took him through some long abandoned market gardens.
Now, before you all get nicked for fruit theft, remember you should always stick to common land or seek permission from the land owner before you forage. And on the health front, avoid fruit growing too near busy roads. That said, the world is your oyster – or at the very least your home made hedgerow jam. » Find out more about foraging
Gather around 1.5kg of fruit for each 1kg of sugar, then:
- wash fruit
- chop the larger fruit
- combine with 100ml of water and the sugar
- make sure the sugar is dissolved
- boil for 15 minutes
- remove any scum – or add a little bit of butter to disperse it
Put a few drops on a cold plate (from the freezer) and push gently to see if it wrinkles – that way you know your jam will set. Allow to cool a little and spoon into sterilised jars. » More info on jam making
Celebrating the American festival of Thanksgiving has become increasingly popular in the the UK. But why not have a more traditional Harvest Supper? Invite friends round for a big bowl of pasta made with your own pesto and finish up with a traditional Victorian trifle made with your Hedgerow Jam. » Find out more about Thanksgiving ideas and use them for your Harvest supper
Traditional Victorian trifle doesn’t use fruit but is a wonderous combination of sponge. jam and home made custard, topped with whipped cream.
- 225g plain sponge cake (ideally home made)
- decent slug of sherry or brandy
For the custard:
- 40ml caster sugar
- 30ml cornflour
- 275ml milk
- 2 beaten egg yolks
For the topping:
- 275ml whipped double cream
- lightly toasted flaked almonds (more traditional) or chocolate shavings
Cut the sponge into pieces and spread with jam. Arrange in a bowl. Add the alcohol.
To make the custard, mix the sugar and the cornflour in a bowl and blend in the milk gradually. Heat and shir until thick and smooth. Then whisk this into the beaten eggs.
Pour on the custard and leave to cool before covering with cream and flaked almonds or chocolate shavings.
Planning your harvest supper…
You could serve a simple soup made with pumpkin or courgette as its base, then your pasta, the trifle and a cheese board dressed with apples and blackberries.
Better still, invite friends to make a contribution to the feast by bringing something from their own autumn harvest. Or invite them to come foraging with you the week before and cook what you find. Put that pig back in the field madame!
Dress the table with autumn fruits and leaves and use candles to cast a golden glow.