Blackberries

Blackberries must be the best known wild-gathered berry. Of course, there are plenty of cultivated ones now available, but there is a far greater sense of satisfaction if you pick your own in the dappled autumn sun and return home with stained hands and lips. Blackberries are a good source of Vitamin C and provide a fair amount of iron. The blackberry leaf and root are powerful astringents and the berries are used to treat diarrhoea and anaemia.

Figs

Figs originated in Southwest Asia, and they now grow throughout the Mediterranean and surprisingly well in Britain. The medicinal use of figs is almost as ancient as the plant itself. For centuries, figs have been recommended to restore energy and vitality. Pliny wrote, ‘Figs are restorative and the best food that can be taken by those who are brought low by a long sickness’. They can be turned into a variety of dishes, but frankly they are delicious just the way they are.

Elderberry

Elderberries are another autumn fruit dripping from the tree to gather by the basket. Elderberry vinegar added to warm water makes a delicious healthy winter drink. They strengthen the immune system and reduce the severity and duration of colds and flu. Elderberries are a rich source of Vitamins A, B and C, potassium and antioxidants. Some research suggests they may be better than blueberries at fighting free radicals.

Fennel seed

Fennel seeds are one of the nine sacred Anglo Saxon herbs symbolising longevity, courage and strength. I love the fresh green seeds before they are dried; they add an aromatic burst of flavour to food. Fennel seeds are a potent medicine containing loads of minerals and vitamins including copper, iron, zinc, calcium and Vitamins A, E and C plus B complex. They have long been used as a remedy for indigestion and relief of colic pain in newborn babies.

Apple

Fresh-picked apples are one of the evocative smells of autumn. Many apples, kept in a dry room, will keep into the following year. Apples are packed with disease-fighting vitamins and antioxidants. Juicing apples from time to time is fine, but eating them in their whole form will give you a synergistic blend of nutrients and fibre the way nature intended, providing you with well-researched health benefits.

Pumpkin

There are many different varieties of pumpkins; some are tiny and nestle in the palm of your hand, others are too big to move single-handed. Halloween jack-o’-lanterns make pumpkins synonymous with autumn. All the scooped-out flesh can be turned into endless dishes, from soups and risotto to muffins and pies. The fruit is a good source of Vitamin B complex as well as many antioxidant vitamins such as A, C and E. Pumpkin is also a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorous.

Rosehip

Like jewels, rosehips cascade down the bushes in the autumn. These oval, red fruits of wild roses have long been used as food and medicine. Turn them into chutneys, jams, syrups, vinegars, wine and teas. Rosehip tea was traditionally used for the common cold and locally for inflamed or bleeding gums. During the Second World War, many tonnes of rosehips were turned into syrup to provide Vitamin C.

Extract from ‘Living Food: A Feast for Soil & Soul’ by Daphne Lambert, published by Unbound, 2016

Daphne Lambert is a founding member of Greencuisine Trust, an educational charity that engages with individuals, organisations and communities in order to rethink food. Daphne teaches seasonal Living Nutrition weekend courses at Trill Farm. 

Visit the course page to find out more about Living Nutrition Courses run by Daphne.