Probably because of English school terms I still think of August as 'proper summer'. Between the stage of 'lots of fresh growth' in spring and 'lots of fruit around' in autumn is a bit of a lull, even the birds seem quieter, it's almost like nature takes a break from the usual grind.
But that's not really the case. All the plants are frantically storing up energy to bestow on their offspring in the form of fruit and seeds.
There are a few species that start to fruit at this time of year, so if you're out on a country walk keep an eye out for them; it's one of the best ways to keep kids interested in my experience:
The thorns and pioneering nature of the bramble (growing in scrubland, car parks etc) can make it easy to overlook for most of the year, but as fruits ripen on the bushes, the old ice-cream tubs come out. Then it's a race as hedges are scoured by intrepid forages of all ages. If you find an untouched bramble patch consider yourself lucky and reap the benefits for yourself; leaving a few for the birds and mice of course.
My favorite way to use these berries is in a crumble, but in summer time, having them with some Cornish ice cream is always a winner.
Blaeberry if you're in Scotland, this is more one for the Northerners where uplands are often covered in in bilberry bushes. It's a smaller, more subtle tasting relative of the blueberry that's hardy to the cold. If you find a good patch, and have a plastic bag to hand, picking them is an idyllic way to spend a hot afternoon as a family. Delicious when warmed in a pan with a spoon of sugar and poured over pancakes.
Finding wild stawberries is rare in part because they are so easy to overlook. They grow low to the ground, so get your little-uns (at a natural height advantage) to keep an eye out next time you're on a walk. They grow well on the edge of habitats like verges, meadows and woodlands. Because of their low lying position, wash thoroughly before eating. The fruits are tiny and tangy (like a concentrated normal strawberry), and are only worth making into something if you find lots of them, but the simple pleasure of eating them raw shouldn't be underestimated.
Very much the runt of the summer fruit bunch, elder berries have only a trace of sweetness and can't be consumed in large quantities raw, but they can be made into some tasty concoctions and puddings. Try adding a handful to a summer pudding fruit mix, or straining the juice into a pan with water and sugar and reducing to make a syrup.
Without vicious thorns to defend it and with less of a tendency to sprawl than it's rough cousin the bramble, the raspberry is delicious treat if you can find it. They grow in woodland often under the shade of leaves, look especially where trees have recently been cleared as it might be easier to see the berries.
Remember that it's best to wash all berries before eating. If you find sufficient quantity of fruit of any kind, you can preserve it into a tasty, tangy snack as fruit leather.
With all berry bearing plants, leave a few behind as the reason the plants make them is to have their seeds distributed by hungry animals. That way, there will be more plants in the future.
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