One of the best wines that I ever made was a blackberry and elderberry mixture. It was in Fall, when I went a-foraging in the hedgerows and in the scrubby woodland near to the Bridgewater Canal, which runs near to my house. The children and I had found an old elder tree in what they called our secret place, and we foraged its berries, some being used in desserts, but others for wine making. I have made elderberry wine on its own, but in later years I focused mainly on mixing it with other fruits. In fact elderberry is quite tarty and so is more suitably mixed with sweeter fruits and needs to be sweetened. [Some people that the tannin in it has a mildly irritating effect on the stomach when it is taken in any quantity, but this seems matter of individual genetics.]
Blackberries mix well with any fruit, and so I have made a lovely wine out of blackberry and apple juice, some having come from my late lamented old Bramley Apple , which used to provide a rich crop until it had to be felled because of canker, but I have also used crab apples foraged in scrubby neglected woodland patches. Pear juice also will go well with any other fruit, but you have to leave the newly picked pears some time to soften after picking. The great advantage of blackberry is that Britain is rife with it, and so unless a zealous local council decides to tidy up the hedges there are plenty of blackberries in late August and early September, depending upon the area.I pick a few lovely, succulent ones when I am going out of the allotment, for the fence has plenty of them lining it. Do not, though, pick the shiny ones, for they are yet not fully ripe. A blackberry is ripe when its shine has faded into a dull blackish purple.
The recipe is similar to the one given above for birch, but you need to pulp the blackberries, a juicer will suffice, but they can be boiled to get them to break down. Strain the juice into a demijon and add two pounds of sugar,yeast and yeast nutrient. I use a red wine yeast,though a general purpose yeast will suffice.
There are other wines, all of which are made in the same way as blackberry is. You can also make elderflower wine, a brew of Spring, which involves collecting a gallon of elderflowers and soaking them for a few days to extract their flavour, then brewing the wine as elderberry is brewed, though a white wine yeast is preferable. Some berries, such as hawthorn, are not suitable for brewing as they have very little flesh and juice. Bilberry, Britain's close relative of the blueberry is made in the same way as elderberry and blackberry are, but this small ground covering shrub requires much effort to pick sufficient for a brew.
I have no experience of lanternflies, as my home is in the North West, but in general growers have pests to deal with.
The Environmental Protection Agency's Integrated Pest Management Program (EPA IPM) conducts an arborist-related webinar series on such topics as spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) invasions and management.
Their webinar yesterday indicated that spotted lanternflies (SLF) offend California vineyardists specifically and wine-making berry- and grape-growers generally. The United States thus far relies on bifenthrin, dinotefuran and imidicloprid treatments since natural, organic treatments render near-nothing results. Research shows fungal biopesticides not ruining any winemaking-friendly fungi but also not ruining any SLF populations, be they nymph or adult stages, either.
Business and home winemakers stress over ultimate impacts on berry, grape and wine quality.
Online sources talk about spotted lanternflies in east and southeast England, whose warm-summer climate ushers in SLF to their favorite Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) hosts.
Would there be similar concerns on your, eastern side of the (Atlantic) pond over controls, environmental residue and product quality?
Acer negundo produces a light syrup that tastes like butterscotch..Wineberries belong to the brambles, all of which make a good wine either alone or with other fruit. Black cherries produce a strong flavour on their own.I have no experience of maple syrup in wine making..
frankbeswick, Thank you for the photo, practicalities and products.
The three foraging books I have but the Wine Folly I'll need to get.
It's simple foraging for me to retrieve black walnuts and Chinese chestnuts from the south lawn. But I now leave them where they are because the chipmunks and squirrels so love them and, having grown up where a swatch of American chestnuts survived, know that the Chinese chestnuts give a different taste than what I grew up loving in my family's Czech chestnut cake with chocolate frosting.
Wild blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and wineberries (Rubus phoenicolasius) proliferate, along with dandelions and wild onion, just about everywhere, back, front, north, south lawns. I retrieve them as fresh fruit for desserts and salads or on their own.
Would you know whether box elder (Acer negundo) produces agreeable syrup and wine and if a black cherry tree and wineberries produce agreeable wines?
Where you live foraging for wine ingredients is not easy, as there are no birch woods. Blackberry is found, and you are not far from moorlands, where you might pick bilberry. Certainly you are nearer to moorland than I am. As you have said, dandelion wine is a nice foragers' wine, which I overlooked. I have made it in the past, but it is not among my favourites.
I do remember picking dandelions as a teenager around Manchester Airport with our former sister in law for dad to make dandelion wine.
I am an avid forager but don' make wine.
Blackberry belongs to the Rosaceae family, all of which tend to be thorny, except for cultivars specifically bred for thornlessness.
Like you, I have never hunted,there being little need for an urban dweller in England to do so. I have some experience sea fishing and coarse fishing. I have foraged for some mushrooms, and as I have studied them I have successfully selected safe and edible ones.
We have wild blackberries in this area. But the wild ones have thorns on the branches, and are difficult to go after without coming out with scratches. Another possibility is wild mushrooms, but one must be very careful to only pick certain varieties. Here, survival skills are more on hunting and fishing. We have swamps, and both fresh and salt water bodies. I have never hunted, and am inept at fishing.
Serious survival skills is part of what foraging is about. Of course, in parts of North America survival skills are vital, such as the forests and the mountains. There are areas of Britain like that, but they are smaller than you have in North America. But foraging can also be about making use of nature's abundance.
Thanks. I reckoned that US and Canadian readers would think of maple. The field maple does not grow in my area, as it needs alkaline soils, which we don't have where I live.