Autumn has a spectacular abundance of produce; branches bend under the weight of apples, pears and plums, the fields are bursting with pumpkin, corn, kale, beans, beets, chard and garlic, and the hedges are heavy with jewel-like fruits such as elderberries, blackberries, rosehips and haws.

All these foods are full of health boosting benefits. Dry, freeze, bottle or ferment; there are a myriad of ways to preserve the harvest and reap the benefits during the winter months.

Here are a few of my favourites to make and store for the winter, plus an autumn pudding to enjoy now.

AUTUMN PUDDING

An autumn twist on a summer classic.

1 large head of elderberries
225g blackberries
2 quinces
110g damsons
225g mulberries or raspberries
125g rapadura sugar
8 medium slices spelt bread
1 x 1.2 litres pudding basin

Peel and core the quince, then cut into small pieces and put into a pan with the sugar and about 4 fl oz water. Gently cook for about 20 minutes or until tender.
Cook the damsons in a little water until soft and mushy. Sieve to remove the stones.
Strip the elderberries from their stalk. Add the damson puree, the elderberries, blackberries and mulberries or raspberries to the cooked quince.
Cover the fruit and bring to the boil and cook gently for 2 minutes then remove from the heat.
Remove 1 mug of the liquid. Cut a circle from one of the slices of bread and line the base of the pudding basin, then line the sides of the pudding basin with strips of bread leaving enough bread to make a circle for the top. Set the top bread circle on one side. Tip the fruit into the lined basin and cover with the reserved bread. Pour over the reserved mug of juice so that the bread is completely soaked in juice. Put a plate that will fit inside the basin’s rim on the pudding and weight it down with anything heavy - kitchen weights or a jar filled with water. Put the basin on a plate to catch any over flowing juice and leave overnight in the fridge.
To serve, remove the weight and plate, gently run a palette knife between the bread and basin and unmould the pudding onto a plate. Pour over any juice that over flowed onto the plate and serve.
 

SPICED SLOE GIN

A warming drink for the dark winter months.

450g sloes
100g rapadura sugar
1⁄2 cinnamon stick
twist of lemon peel
1 x Jalapeno or Aleppo chilli
1 litre gin

Prick the tough skin of the sloes all over with a clean needle and put them into a large sterilised jar – kilner jars work well. Add the sugar, cinnamon, lemon peel and chilli, then pour over the gin. Seal tightly and shake well.
Store in a cool, dark cupboard and shake every other day for a week, then shake once a week for at least two months.
Strain the sloe gin through muslin then pour into a sterilised bottle.

 

FERMENTED GARLIC

Fantastic winter fare, great for the immune system & simplicity itself – make as much or as little as you want.

Peeled garlic
Brine (ratio 500ml chlorine free water to 1 tablespoon sea salt)
Oregano or rosemary

Place the herbs in a wide mouthed jar. Fill the jar within 1 inch of the top with garlic cloves.
Pour brine over the garlic cloves. Place a weight on top of the garlic to keep it submerged and cover loosely with muslin.
Allow to ferment for 3 to 4 weeks. Keeping your cloves submerged is essential! If the brine becomes low, add a touch more.
Fix a lid and move to a cool place to store.
 

BLACKBERRY & HORSERADISH SYRUP

An excellent cough syrup neat or as a soothing drink when added to hot water.

450g blackberries
150ml water
1 dessertspoon grated horseradish
Honey

Simmer the blackberries in the water until mushy. Sieve out the pips. Return to the pan with the horseradish and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the honey and pour into sterilised bottles. Store in the fridge.


Daphne Lambert is an award winning chef, author and founding member and CEO of food education charity, the Greencuisine Trust. She is an expert in the field of health and nutrition and runs our seasonal Living Nutrition retreats, unfolding the relationship between land, food, health and vitality.