Depending where you are in the country, the first frost might have been and gone weeks ago. If the temperature has already plummeted, you may have seen fruits of sloes, rosehips, rowan berries, haws and maybe even blackberries covered in a crisp and magically frosted outer.
Cornish Frost - Myth or Reality?
Here in West Cornwall I never know whether this moment is going to arrive, at all. This year that moment came last week, and it is a welcomed one for a forager. I celebrated by going out and picking a select few of the remaining Japanese rosehips (Rosa Rugosa) which I'll probably use to flavour chocolates for the February valentines foraging course. A time when we'll probably need something to lift our spirits, immune systems and hearts. Gifts and wild food always help, I think.
(Hawthorn fruit - Crataegus monogyna - awaiting the first frost)
So, here in my beloved Cornwall, where the warm currents and breezes from the sea can help keep the temperature here more ambient. Exposed to the prevailing Southwesterly winds that blow in from the Atlantic means that Cornwall is considered the mildest and warmest place in the UK. Here we can sometimes sit on the beach on Christmas Day, and sometimes the frost, never, ever arrives. It is true that the closer to the ocean you get, the milder the winters and the cooler the summers are. Those of you who know Cornwall know that the down side is here we can get more rain. Nothing is perfect.
All this weather effects the foraging too, and in this blog I'm going to discuss how that effects wild fruits. In previous blogs I've talked about how the frost and snow effects seaweeds; that's another read, if you're interested.
(Frozen sloes - Prunus spinosa)
What does the frost do to wild fruits and is there an alternative?
The frost has the effect of both breaking the skins of the fruits and sweetening them. A welcomed impact for desserts, flavoured gin, jams, jellies and much more. Of course, living in the modern age means you don't have to wait for the first frost - which is lucky for us in Cornwall as it may come late or not at all.
Why? Because we have freezers. It is true, popping the fruits in the freezer is not as romantic as getting up at dawn to collect glistening fruits breaking their frost virginity. Though hey, there are benefits to our modern world and there are many other wonderful things to do with our time and mornings too.
Enjoy the weather, fruits and the convenience of freezers. Freezers also mean that you can attend to your fruits - whatever you want to create with them - when you have ample time to enjoy the process, and not in a rushed moment between dawn and sun down.
All images by Rachel Lambert, except frozen blackberries which is courtesy of Snapguide. If you'd like to see more foraging images, why not visit or follow my Pinterest page.