Michaelmas Day falls on the 29th September every year, an ancient celebration of the end of harvest and the start of autumn, getting prepared for the shortening of the days. It used to be said that harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas, marking of the end of the productive season and the beginning of the new farming cycle.
Traditionally in the British Isles, the day was celebrated with feasts and festivals to encourage protection during the darker months following harvest. We would give gifts of and feast on a well-fattened goose, fed on the bountiful harvest hauls, which was thought to protect against financial need in the family for the next year.
Folklore in England says that blackberries shouldn't be picked after Michaelmas Day as it brings bad luck. The saying goes that when Lucifer was expelled from Heaven, he fell to earth and landed on a blackberry bush, cursing the fruit and spitting on them.
As the nights begin to blanket us in darkness earlier and earlier, it's time to make the most of nature's hedgerow gift. Gather the Tupperware and pick all the last wild blackberries you can carry. Freeze them, make them into jam, compotes and save their sweet energy to brighten up a future cold winter's day.
We're sharing a delicious autumn hedgerow salad making the most of the British hedgerow at the end of harvest: blackberries, hazelnuts and figs, thrown together with some peppery leaves and shavings of Quicke's Oak Smoked Goat's Cheese. A season captured in a bowl.
- 50g wild blackberries
- 1 tsp runny honey
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 50g rocket leaves
- 50g watercress
- 6 ripe figs, quartered
- 150g wild blackberries
- 125g Quicke's Oak Smoked Goat's Cheese
- 50g hazelnuts - toasted and roughly chopped
- Pound all the dressing ingredients in a pestle and mortar
- Arrange the rocket and watercress in a large bowl, top with the figs, blackberries, cheese and hazelnuts.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve with warm crusty bread.
Inspired by a recipe taken from Lia Leendertz's Almanac 2019. Page 194.