How to cook with autumn fruits

Blackberry&GingerJelly HERO

We are moving out of the high summer of bright red berries, and into the famous season of mist and mellow fruitfulness now, and the fruit aisles and hedgerows are bursting with purples, russets and bright greens. Autumn fruit, is delicious raw - think of sinking your teeth into a cool crisp British Cox's orange pippin for instance - but cooking brings out the mellow flavours in both sweet and savoury dishes.

With foraging for wild foods a real trend, treat the hedgerows as an additional larder. Blackberries are still abundant until 29 September, when country folklore has it that the devil ‘spits' on them, and after that they are inedible. So gather them now. There are lots of tasty treats to be made - they are delicious raw, but cooking really brings out the flavour. Try the ever popular apple and blackberry traybake or unusual blackberry and ginger jelly for a sophisticated dinner party.

Nestling alongside the blackberries, you may spot small (1cm) purple plum-like fruits called sloes, that are sour and bitter to bite into. But they transform gin, to create a delicious drink that will be ready by Christmas - sloe gin is the authentic taste of the British countryside. Just gather sloes - 500g makes a flavourful bottle of gin. Use a funnel to add 60g sugar to an empty bottle. Thoroughly wash and either slash or prick the sloes and push them through the neck of the bottle. Top up with gin. Gradually, the lovely purple colour will creep through the gin and the fragrant drink should be ready by Christmas. Make enough and it would be a very welcome gift.

The Bramley apple is one of England's glories. No other country has an apple that dissolves into a delicious puree at the touch of heat. The key ingredient for apple sauce, so perfect with roast pork and crackling - you can also roast the apples with the meat to absorb the flavours. It's also perfect for apple pies and tarts. Eating apples keep their shape when heated - create a lovely decorative effect by fanning lemon-juice dipped slices out over a pastry base, sprinkling with sugar and baking. Both types are wonderful in dishes such as apple flapjacks and autumnal apple tart.

For a savoury, Scandinavian twist, try tartare of matjes herring and salmon, where the dice of apple adds a crunchy surprising twist to the mellow fish.

England's autumn fruits are there for the plucking. An apple a day, after all, keeps the doctor away - a fact now proved by science.

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