Good Food Blog
An eye for an autumn bargainPosted at 11:00AM, 09 October 2008 by Mary Cadogan - Food writer
Autumn is a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Not half! All that free and almost-free food there for the picking brings out the bargain hunter in me every time. There's nothing I like better than to go scrumping, cadging and generally keeping a look out for the bargains that a glut brings.
It all started with the blackberry season. A relaxing walk in the country ended in a frenzy of picking and no one was allowed to get back in the car until we had filled our boxes, bags and pockets with enough to make jams, jellies and a great crumble for supper. Never mind the scratches and scrapes, it was worth it.
I sneaked a few apples that were sort of leaning on my side of the fence
Next I noticed my neighbour's apples looked a bit neglected, and as he's not much of a cook, I sneaked a few that were sort of leaning on my side of the fence. The next day he stopped me to say I was welcome to pick his apples anytime as he didn't need them. I turned away to hide my red face, but I'll reward him with some of my apple chutney that fills the house with eye stinging vinegary smells.
As I stroll into the village each day, I keep a careful eye on how the fig tree that I pass is getting on (tantalisingly close to ripeness). Happily it belongs to my good friend Margaret and we have a deal going that I take her figs and turn them into chutney and jam, some of which goes back into her larder.
It's all a bit exhausting because the markets are also full of produce at knock-down prices, overripe tomatoes to make into sauces for the freezer, huge squashes to roast in big wedges with spices and olive oil, and I find myself unable to resist.
The problem is that there are features to write, supper to cook, work to be done, and not enough hours in the day. But at the end of it I'll have a larder full of jars, a freezer full of fruit and a general feeling that all is well with the world when I check it all over. Must dash, the wind has blown all the hazelnuts off the tree in the garden and I must get them before the squirrels do.