In Somerset, John Craven discovers nature's way of compensating for bad seasons, and he goes apple pressing with cider-drinking superstars The Wurzels.
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If you've been out in the countryside these last few weeks,
It's not just the normal onset of autumn that I'm talking about.
No, this is much bigger, and it's happening in woodlands
our farmers have had a much better harvest.
But that's nothing compared to what Mother Nature's got in store.
There's an absolute profusion of nuts and berries,
In this autumnal programme, I'll be looking at what it means,
And, along the way, we have got some of the best of nature's wild
harvest that has been featured on Countryfile in recent times.
In Cornwall, Julia cooked up one of our least favourite weeds
and produced something surprisingly tasty.
Yes, I do. Do you like rhubarb? Lovely.
Meanwhile, I went undercover to track down a very rare
because we mustn't let anyone know where we are going.
And, in Northern Ireland, Ellie went uncovered
to test the unexpected benefits of something rather fishy.
and the hypothesis is that it will make me feel younger
This autumn has been a bumper one for wild fruits and berries.
What's really remarkable is the massive overproduction of mast,
an old name for the nuttier fruits of the forest.
I'm in Somerset, not far from Taunton, at Langford Heathfield
Nature Reserve, meeting tree expert Simon from the Forestry Commission.
Let's get out of the rain for a moment, Simon,
Look at all the acorns on this one, it's amazing. It's laden, isn't it?
It's almost staggering under the weight of acorns.
It's the way we describe these extraordinary abundant years
for species like oak, producing acorns and sweet chestnuts,
and beech mast is something that people know about.
There seems to be in these particular species
incredible spikes in production - it's almost as though, we believe,
they're responding to some conditions in the weather.
We don't fully understand it, and it seems to be a nationwide phenomenon.
Between five and seven years on oak, and it varies with other species.
this system of synchronising their abundance to produce so much
fruit in one go that all the animals are satiated, they can't eat it all.
They get full tummies. So there are still nuts around to survive.
More of them will survive through the winter,
and they'll be the next generation of oaks when they germinate next year.
there are some strange looking things, like this.
What's happened to that acorn? That is called a knopper gall.
The adult lays its eggs in the developing acorn, the larvae develop,
and this is the oak tree's response to those creatures being inside it.
They're using the acorn's energy resources to develop.
Unfortunately, that acorn will now be inviable.
But there are plenty of healthy acorns on that tree.
Which is good news for all the little mammals and birds.
Indeed. Traditionally this would have been seen
but also for people because they would have fed their animals on this.
Pannage is a word we used to use for the right to have your pigs feeding
Producing so many acorns and other nuts takes a huge amount
of energy for our trees, so this won't happen again for a few years.
Now, for those of us who don't have a pig to feed,
what can we do with this excess of free food?
It helps if you have a chef to call on, as Matt found out
Bearing its plentiful bounty at this time of year
is the sweet chestnut, one of Britain's most ancient trees.
Their precious nuts have been a staple food source
These trees were introduced to Britain by the Romans
take advantage of this ancient tree's free harvest.
So, I'm on a mission to champion the cause of the British sweet chestnut.
the Ancient Tree Hunt Project is working with volunteers
across Britain to help draw up a map of their locations.
What exactly is the Ancient Tree Hunt?
It's a project run by the Woodland Trust, where we're aiming
to collect 100,000 records of ancient, veteran
This month we've just gone over 75,000 records,
How old does a tree have to be to be classed as ancient?
It depends on the species. With a yew tree, over 600 years.
These sweet chestnuts here, 250 years,
They are. They're called the Twelve Apostles,
they're the largest sweet chestnuts in the Chilterns.
A classic example of parkland planting from 250, 300 years ago.
It gets deeply fissured once it gets over a couple of hundred years old,
then you can start to see the twists.
This one's got a fantastic, almost serpent-like twisting
Let's have a root around to see if we can find one to have a nibble of.
I love them roasted, but I've never tried them raw.
They're very crunchy. They are classed as a nut, aren't they?
If there is anyone with a nut allergy,
they should be aware before they start munching these.
Exactly. It's interesting that the British people don't collect them
like they do in the Mediterranean countries,
I'm not quite sure why because they taste just the same.
But I think the main difference is the size.
Down in the Mediterranean, they fill out and get much bigger
Do you find that restaurants are importing them?
They do, they mostly come from Italy into the UK.
With countless numbers of the sweet chestnut's bounty going to waste
all over the country, surely there must be a way
to turn this neglected British nut into more of a delicacy?
To find out, I'm grabbing a load of the biggest sweet chestnuts here
and taking them to this restaurant near Henley-on-Thames.
Which happens to belong to a certain celebrity chef
Antony, how you doing? Hello, Matt. Thanks for helping us out.
It was a challenge for me. How versatile are these sweet chestnuts?
What can you do with them? You can do an awful lot with chestnuts.
The British tend to make stuffings but not much else really.
Maybe fried up with Brussels sprouts, which are quite nice.
But the Spanish are big with them of course,
but they don't use British chestnuts.
What have you got here? I've just had a little play.
I love spiced nuts and I like sweet nuts.
These are the spiced nuts, which are a bit of cumin, smoked paprika,
The sweet ones are mixed spice, cinnamon and brown sugar.
I blanched them first, got them reasonably soft.
You haven't got the crunch, they do go soft.
I'd love more people to use British chestnuts. They're all around us.
Especially here, there's loads of trees.
Shall we put these on a little plate?
Put those on a plate. This is the sweet one.
It will be interesting to see. Quite Christmassy flavours going on here.
You can imagine some of those with a glass of mulled wine. Oh, my word.
Am I all right to dive in? It might be hot, be careful.
They have got that creamy texture in the middle, haven't they?
Now these - cumin, garlic salt and smoked paprika,
It sounds fantastic, let's see how they taste.
Actually, very different. Very different.
You can imagine those getting your saliva glands going,
so you need plenty of drink to go with those.
and give the townsfolk an autumn treat.
I'll keep my fingers crossed. See you later. Thanks again.
The great thing about chestnuts is that they're fantastic
flavour carriers, but how well will they go down here?
British sweet chestnuts, picked about an hour ago.
It's a surprise actually. Is it? Do you normally have chestnuts?
Excuse me, sir? Can I interest you in a sweet chestnut?
They are nicer when they're a little bit warmer.
There you go, my friend. Just grab in there, look.
I think he thinks it's chocolate. What are they like? Are they nice?
Wow! Going in for seconds. He is! Yes, shove it all in. Magic!
Very nice. British chestnuts. Lovely.
Yes, we can do a thumbs up. Brilliant!
Well, the general consensus seems to be
that our British sweet chestnuts are a winner.
With this year's bumper wild harvest
there are plenty of other winners as well,
like these hedgerow favourites, blackberries.
There are loads of them, and they're delicious.
'Sometimes, nature surprises us with its offerings.
'It's extraordinary that, alongside many busy roads,
'there are healthy and productive apple trees.
'They've often grown from apple cores
'thrown out of the window by passing motorists.
'I've teamed up with the ideal person to check out
I'm joining Liz Copas, a pomologist -
that's an apple expert to you and me -
and we're picking a selection to taste.
This is what we gathered, Liz, in about five minutes
on a random stretch of road. It's amazing.
There's all sorts - green, red, and some sort of recognisable.
But none of them are the true variety.
So what does that mean? These are all new, if you like.
When a seedling comes from an apple, it's never the same as its parent.
This is sort of Golden Delicious. It's got ten pips in it.
If you sowed those ten pips, they'd come up as ten little seedlings,
but they would not be identical to one another, nor to the parent.
But if it had been a commercial Golden Delicious,
you'd have taken cuttings from the same tree.
Exactly, that's vegetated propagation, where you cut a piece
of vegetation off and grow lots like it, so they would all be identical.
But seeds never are. Seedlings are not predictable.
No! That's how you get all this variety.
So what have we got here? That looks to me like a Gala.
That might have come from a Gala originally.
It's got some of the characteristics. These look like Coxes.
Yes, it's that kind of russety, golden colour.
And these are little crab apples. Yes, they are wild apples.
Full of tannin, so they're quite good for adding to other things
if you wanted to make a drop of cider.
It's been a bumper year for apples, hasn't it?
Just as it's been a mast year for berries and nuts.
These are just a few from one of my trees. Last year we had none at all.
Is there a connection there? Absolutely.
It's about 80% down to the weather, and the other 20%
is how you look after your trees, how you feed them and prune them.
Apples make their flower bud for the following season in about August.
So if you've had a good summer, even if you've got a good crop
and it's taking a lot of the nutrients out of the tree,
to make some good flower bud for the following year.
So, quite a mixture discovered in a short time.
Yes, all in the space of a few hundred yards.
An excellent choice of apples that people have for lunch.
Well, these apples aren't going for lunch. They've got another purpose.
'And I'll tell you more about my plans for those roadside apples,
'and for the ones from my garden, later in the programme.
'This wild harvest is nature's last throw of the dice
'Soon, these leaves will be turning and falling.
'So what's the science behind this spectacular display?
'One autumn day, Julia asked BBC weatherman John Hammond
'to shed some light on it, literally.'
Well, Julia, welcome to my outdoor living area,
complete with beautiful sofa, pumpkin and of course table lamp.
Very nice. You want to know what's going on. Yes, great views.
Here we are surrounded by the effects of autumn, but what is the cause?
Well, autumn is of course one of the seasons
if we didn't have a tilted Earth on its axis.
If it wasn't tilted, we wouldn't have any seasons,
so it's a good job. Let me show you why.
Let me grab the Earth on its axis. So that pumpkin is the Earth.
The Earth spins on its axis once a day.
But it also goes around the sun once a year.
OK? Now, I get over here and... I shall reveal the sun for you.
Ta-da! ..dissemble the table lamp to reveal the sun in all its glory.
I've painted on the UK. Nicely done, very professional.
Sort of. If I hold the axis, like this, in summer,
the sun is shining almost directly overhead in the UK,
so you get very strong sunshine and you get a longer day length.
Because of the angle, because of the slant of the axis,
you can see that the sun is lower in the sky
and the UK isn't getting the direct effects of that sunshine.
So the weather is colder and the day length is shorter.
That's the difference between summer and winter.
And autumn is the transition between the two.
All to do with the angle of the dangle. Absolutely, yes.
The further north you are, the earlier autumn starts.
And the greater the changes to temperature and length of day.
So Matt went to Scotland to find out how those changes cause plant life
to create beautiful autumnal shows of colour.
It's one of the most dazzling displays in the whole of nature.
When the treetops blaze with colour. Autumn's crowning glory.
For many, it's their best time of year.
There's a bit of a nip in the air. The chance to kick up a few leaves.
I tell you, you cannot beat colours like this.
And Perthshire in Scotland is one of the best places
This is the famous Pass of Killiekrankie.
The leaves here are well ahead of the rest of the country,
but what's happening to create this fantastic display?
Well, it's all to do with the different types of chemicals
in the leaves, and how they are affected by the onset of autumn.
As you know, when autumn comes, the temperature gets a bit colder
compared to summer and the days get shorter.
adapted to recognise those signals. And as that happens,
OK, let's get in and have a look at what's going on in the tree.
Just talk us through this process. This is an old tree, a sessile oak.
And, um...superficially, it looks like
losing its leaves is an inefficient process.
You can imagine it's getting rid of all that energy.
it's taking back a lot of the sugars, the energy,
storing it in the tree for use next year.
It goes into the trunk and so on and helps them prepare for next season.
Then it drops all the waste stuff that's left here.
What happens is the tree's normally green,
that's the chlorophyll which helps photosynthesis.
With the leaf fall it withdraws all of the chlorophyll
and what you then see are either the waste products
which is this brown stuff here, the tannin,
or yellows, reds and oranges which make up the normal pigments
Normally, they are masked by the chlorophyll,
but in autumn that chlorophyll is removed
so you get to see this wonderful display of colours.
So these colours are always there in the leaves,
it's just that the green is a more dominant colour.
They are. When you think of the flowers,
some of these pigments you find in flowers.
So red flowers, yellow flowers have these pigments.
Well, I've had no problem at all today gathering wild apples.
But not all wild food is that easy to find, as I discovered
when I went in search of the most expensive of all woodland produce.
and were plentiful in our woodlands a few hundred years ago.
But, as our landscape changed, the truffle, like the wild boar
that helped spread them around, began to disappear.
On the continent, the cousins of these British truffles
change hands for thousands of pounds a kilo.
Here, it's more like £400, but they've never been so highly prized.
They are considered by some to be just as delicious as their
French or Italian counterparts, and in this country, even rarer.
But in recent years, there's a top-secret location
that's been consistently turning out kilo after kilo of this black gold.
To protect his treasure, the farmer needs to hide his identity.
So instead, I'm meeting someone a little less reclusive.
Roger Phillips is an expert in mushrooms
and it was he who identified the first truffle found here.
Roger, where are these truffles, then?
because we mustn't let anyone know where we're going.
That secret, is it? It's that secret, yes.
Right, this is going to be intriguing.
OK, I'm going to do the camera as well.
The camera obviously not allowed to see where we're going.
He can't see where we're going. Let's go.
Do they actually grow on trees or around trees?
They don't grow on trees, but they grow in association with trees.
Without the truffles, the trees wouldn't grow.
Because we've got hazels here. Do they like hazels?
How come this particular little wood is a truffle trove?
And the truffles supply water and minerals to the trees
I'd only ever found one meagre, horrible, dried-up truffle
before in my life. Then I came down here. In England?
In England, yes. And how many did you find here?
I went out with the farmer and we collected, I don't know,
maybe 25 or something like that. I was out of my mind!
Well, you've won me over with your enthusiasm for the truffle.
What I need to do now is to try and find one somewhere here.
Traditionally, female pigs were the truffle hunter's faithful friends.
The scent of a mature truffle is similar to that of a male pig.
So when the female sniffs one out, she becomes excited
The trouble is, unless the hunter is quick off the mark,
the pig will eat the truffle before it even sees the light of day.
dogs are now the truffle hunter's companion of choice.
This is Valentino, a specially bred Italian truffle hound.
following in the hectic footsteps of truffle hunters of old.
And it's not long before Valentino's super-sensitive nose
This is a great truffle, a winter truffle.
It's a strong smell. It's not about size,
it's really about the quality of the truffle.
I think 100 years ago they were nothing special.
They were ordinary food and they came from the great craft
of woodland industry, which has gone. He'll find another one.
This is quite amazing, truffles are everywhere!
This is unusual because it's a young wood.
But there are a lot more places in England where truffles exist.
And there are a lot of... Good boy. Good boy!
And there's a lot of work you can do to bring them back.
If you want truffles to flourish, you need chalky,
alkaline heavy soil, and well-managed woods like this one.
We've gathered quite a haul in no time at all,
Zak Frost is the farmer's right-hand man.
As well as hunting truffles, he also helps take care of the business.
Here, you've got some drying out on a towel.
Very much a cottage industry, this. Indeed, a shed industry.
As you can see, we take them straight from the wood into this shed,
where they are dried for about four hours and then
packed into padded bags and sent off to chefs around the country.
You can see we've got some great big ones at the back there.
We find them up to 600 grams on the farm.
Truffles from Italy are selling for up to £4,000 a kilo this year.
this wood was never planted as a commercial venture,
So the money side of things has never been
It's been a nice little bonus if such a wonderful hobby can
bring in some extra money on the side as well.
Whatever it was that brought the truffles here,
this place has provided the perfect home for them.
And at a time when our native trees are under threat,
here is a healthy new wood giving birth to an ancient delicacy.
but I doubt if conkers are going to be this year,
which is good news for all those conker competitions.
armed with the wild apples I picked from the roadside,
and some from my own garden, to join in a community apple pressing.
Well, lots of people seem to have had same idea.
Where have you got your apples from? Got mine here. You've only got two!
You've got a vast box - from your garden? All over. All over.
Look at all the trees in this orchard. Fantastic.
What a vast selection of apples, wonderful! Which are yours?
These miserable things. Never mind, they'll be all right.
it doesn't matter how beautiful they are. Amazing collection!
Everybody got the apples from their own gardens, or what? Yes.
Anyone collected any wild ones? Yes, lots of scrumping.
Well, those are my wild ones that I picked this morning.
It was amazing - within just a few hundred yards,
we picked loads of them and lots of different varieties.
So, this is going to make some pretty good apple juice, isn't it?
They are, I hope so. Yes. And cider as well maybe? That's the main aim.
I've bought some of my apples from my garden
and they're cooking apples. Does that matter
No, Bramleys make the best juice, I was told
when I first started doing this, they're very juicy.
So it doesn't matter that they're sour?
No, you've got the right ones for that. You mix them up?
You get what they call a sharp apple juice
which is more tasty than a pure sweet one.
Oh, good, so mine should do OK? Yes, lovely.
Apples and autumn go hand in hand, but it is possible
to trick nature, by creating artificial changes in the seasons
in order to produce harvest conditions all year round,
as Ellie found out when she reported from the Welsh mountains.
These days, in Snowdonia, the stunning scenery draws the crowds.
But farming has long been key to this area.
And now new eco-businesses are being developed
that will invest in weird and wonderful foods.
The hope is that they will produce unique, high-value crops.
And in the world of farming vegetables,
there's no darker art than that of growing mushrooms.
In the wild, they pop up mysteriously in parts of the forest every autumn.
Rare and unusual varieties are craved by top foodies
Some are notoriously hard to find and even harder to farm.
In the UK, we import most of our mushrooms.
come from places like Holland and Ireland.
And 95% of our exotic mushrooms come from the Far East.
But now one local man has started to grow
his very own gourmet shiitake mushrooms
'for self-confessed mushroom obsessive Cynan Jones.'
What have you got there? This is the first stage of growing mushrooms.
It's a bag of local oak which has been chipped
Then it's sterilised and inoculated with shiitake spawn,
a Far Eastern mushroom that we grow here.
You've got to be very careful to make sure you get the right fungus,
which is the shiitake, in here, and nothing else.
So it's got to be grown under laboratory conditions.
That's the very first stage. So you get sent these bags? Yes.
A colleague of mine makes them for me
and then we bring them here and then we take them into the summer.
So where's the summer? The summer is inside this container here.
Wow. Why do you bring the mushrooms into a container like this?
Because we need to get them into a warm environment.
This is a metal box, basically, that's been insulated,
and we can control the temperature to get exactly what we want.
It does feel nice and cosy, I have to say.
It has to be 25 degrees here to get the mycelium to grow properly.
So, mycelium, that's effectively the mushroom's roots? Basically, yeah.
It's like the root system. It's how it gets its food, really.
What we see as a mushroom is just the fruit.
The body is this mycelium that grows and colonises organic matter
and after a few weeks, really starts going... Oh, yeah. That's different.
It's really colonising there now, and then, after another month,
That's the popcorning stage, actually. Is that what it's called?
And these are little mushrooms telling us,
But it won't fruit properly here because it's too warm.
It's got to think the autumn's coming.
And it's got to think, "Dear me, winter's coming.
So we've got to get inside its head and cheat it,
which is the container next door. Right.
'But how do you recreate autumn in the middle of spring?'
This is not what I expected. It's like a lab for mushrooms!
You're like the mushroom alchemist, Cynan.
The first thing we need to do is take it out of the bag. OK.
and now it needs to be properly shocked to make it grow.
Here, 15 degrees, humidity's very high, about 97%, six hours' light.
Within a few days they will be like this one here. Within a few days!
That's quick! Within a week, they'll be like this.
They need to be harvested just before the cap opens up fully,
so something like this. That's perfect, is it?
That is absolutely perfect. And look how beautiful that is.
Some chefs would want them like this for presentation, for stuffing.
Oh, that's lovely. A rich flavour. Others would want them smaller.
So that one's ready as well, even though it's half the size? Yeah.
I think the biggest thing is that they're fresh.
they'll be going out this afternoon or tomorrow morning.
'There's no need to peel cultivated mushrooms.
'and the skin contains nutrients and flavour.
'And if you're worried about food miles,
'I have to let Matt have a taste of this.'
Lucky old Matt Baker, that's what I say.
'there's only one way to complete a visit to Snowdonia
Oh, right. At the front? Or the back?
'It's an hour's train ride to reach the top.
'Plenty of time to relax and enjoy the views.'
What's in here, then? I've cooked the mushrooms.
I've got shiitake mushrooms in here on some Welsh bread, all for you.
That's delicious. Is it? That is really nice.
JOHN: 'In West Somerset, our apple pressing event is well under way
'and there's work to be done for all of us.'
You crush the apples with this thing, here. Yeah.
Do you want to have a go? Oh, yes, please. Thank you.
Turn it around? Turn it around the other way. The other way?
Shall we hold the handles? That is hard work, isn't it?
They've got stuck, so you need to go backwards a bit. Oh, right.
Now try. You've got the technique. That's it.
Oh, I can really feel them going through, now.
It's hard work, isn't it? I'll go back again.
I'm going to have to take a little break from this, Jane. Hard work?
Now, you've organised this event today, haven't you?
But there must be an easier way of doing it than this. Well, indeed.
This is the way it's been done for many years,
but we do use a centrifugal mill now
to mill the apples. Can we have a look at that? Yeah, come and see.
So this is the modern one, is it? This is the press that we use, yes.
It's a centrifugal mill, and it's way over spec for what we need.
It can process a huge amount of apples
in a very short amount of time. It's got a motor. It's got a motor.
You don't have to turn anything. Indeed. And it's made of plastic.
You can tell it's modern. This is a great idea, isn't it,
getting all these people together to press their apples.
It was just a group of us sitting around being aware
that so many apples are going to waste.
Someone saw a whole dumping bag-full being taken to the tip and wasted
and a huge crop, and we thought, "There's got to be a better way.
"There's got to be a way of making use of this fruit."
So we started off borrowing a press and we've gone on to
purchase our own equipment and we now have a mill.
Word certainly got around, didn't it? We hire it out locally.
There's lots of people that hire it out for the day.
Can I hire it for a moment to process mine?
'So, my roadside apples and the ones from my garden
'are well on their way to being turned into fresh juice.
'And one juicy Countryfile moment for Julia happened in Cornwall
'when she tangled with a Countryside invader
'and ended up making a right meal of it.'
'then you're guaranteed a warm welcome around here.
'But there's one visitor that's certainly not welcome.
'An alien invader that's making a dramatic difference
Knotweed was introduced as an ornamental plant from Japan
in the mid-19th century, and now it has a ferocious reputation.
and it's one of the most invasive species in the UK.
'Getting rid of Japanese knotweed comes at a price
'You'd need around £1.5 billion to clean up the UK alone.
'This wasteland is due for development
'and must be knotweed-free before work can begin.
'Mark Prout's going to show me how it's done.
'But, first, why is this plant so persistent?
'Well, it's all to do with the underground stems called rhizomes.'
This piece of rhizome here could potentially regenerate
Within the next 12 months it could be almost as big as that.
'Not only does it spread like wildfire,
'it chokes the life out of everything else as well.
'It even fights its way through concrete and tarmac.
'Here, they're going to extraordinary lengths to tackle it.'
We're going to be excavating all of the soil
and all of the knotweed areas, and literally putting it through
a big sieve to remove the rhizome and put the soil back into the site.
So you've got to dig it up first, which is a major exercise,
that there isn't a single trace of this left in the soil?
'But sieving the soil doesn't work everywhere.'
Mark has one way of fighting these space invaders.
However, Simon Hocking has found another way of getting rid
'Simon relies on a more targeted technique.
'It's already helped clear a Cornish valley
'that had almost disappeared under the troublesome triffid.
'This is what Kenidjack Valley looked like when we visited in 2006.
'Today it's a farmer's field that needs Simon's help.'
We've developed a technique down here on sensitive sites
where we actually cut the stems of the knotweed
and inject them so we can get a targeted kill
Now, when you say a sensitive area, you mean an area such as this
where you need to be mindful of other plant species and things?
Yeah, spraying wouldn't be appropriate in an area like this.
'Simon injects the knotweed with a herbicide containing red dye
'so he can easily see which plants have been injected.'
and you need to know which ones are treated, so you don't overdose them.
And we just discharge 10ml into that. And that's it?
If it was a new infection of knotweed,
that may be possible in the first year,
but in an established site like this you would need to do it year on year
and hopefully see a 50% reduction in the first year
and every year after that until you had it in a manageable position.
'But there is a third way of getting rid of it.
'Believe it or not, you can eat this alien invader.
'Foraging expert Caroline Davy likes nothing better than turning
'this problem plant into a tasty treat.'
Today we're going to be making a Japanese knotweed and custard tart.
Which we'll serve later with some Japanese knotweed ripple ice cream.
Right, get me to work. What shall we start chopping first?
This is the end result, this is what you want.
Which looks just like celery, doesn't it?
Yeah, we're coming towards the end of the knotweed season for eating
because things are getting a bit big and a bit tough.
You want to pick knotweed when it's looking like asparagus.
I put it in a sealed container when I leave the site.
I make sure I'm taking absolutely nothing with me that I can drop
and then when I come home, if I don't use it,
I boil it up and throw it in the bin.
I don't get it anywhere near my compost.
So you really need to know, because you can be prosecuted
And can you imagine, as well, one of those in your compost heap. Exactly.
What do we do with it, then? OK, we want to peel it a little bit.
We want to get these little feathery bits off around the nodes.
Unfortunately, most of the flavours are in the outer layers,
but what I do to compensate for that is I boil up all the bits
so it gets all the nice pink outside.
'A word of warning, and take it from someone who knows,
'pregnant women are advised not to eat Japanese knotweed.'
Right, presumably, we're going to boil the knotweed out of that now.
We're going to poach it in a sugar syrup. Oh!
Very posh way of saying we're going to boil the knotweed out of it.
'A quick squeeze of lemon and a few minutes on the boil
OK, so we're going to put a bit of custard in first.
'Next, a good scoop of cooked knotweed and, finally,
And how long have these lovely little pielettes got to go in the oven for?
Just about ten minutes and then they'll be ready.
'Time to see what the tourists at Sennen Cove
'make of Japanese knotweed in a Countryfile taste test.'
Do you want to have a little taste of a Countryfile tart?
OK, now we're going to surprise you. What are they, Caroline?
It's not actually rhubarb. It's a superweed called Japanese knotweed.
Have you heard of Japanese knotweed? No!
It's Japanese knotweed. Oh, is it? Yeah!
Most people try and kill it. She cooks it.
Last week on the show we launched the Countryfile Calendar for 2014
and revealed the winner of our photographic competition.
And that picture, as you can see, graces the front cover.
'The calendar costs £9, including free UK delivery.
'You can buy yours on our website. That's...
'To order by post, send your name, address and cheque to...
'And please make cheques payable to BBC Countryfile Calendar.
'A minimum of £4 from the sale of each calendar
'will be donated to the BBC Children in Need appeal.'
The 2013 calendar was a record breaker.
so let's hope that this one, with your help, does even better.
Now, if today's programme has inspired you to go out
well, you'll want to know what the weather's going to be like.
Good evening. We saw a dramatic drop in temperature this week to 10
Celsius in places. We will lose that, we will replace it. The
weather that is coming in from the Atlantic is shaping up. This is the
troublesome creature. It is an area of low pressure that is giving a
heavy band of rain and bringing heavy rain and strong to gale force
winds. More rain to come. It is a chilly winter, as well. It looks
like eastern England will see the worst of the weather. They will be
showers further West. Not a cold night, but there could be some fog.
It will be a cold night in the Glens of Scotland, perhaps some frost.
Also the Northern Ireland which fared quite well for weather
tomorrow. A bracing east wind for Scotland. Lots of showers to wake up
to across England and is, as well, through the morning and also quite a
lot of cloud, but possibly some brightness and some fog or the drive
to work. Not a pleasant start the week. We still have those strong
winds. Although they will is down, it will feel quite raw, as we say,
particularly in eastern areas. Plenty more showers coming and
going. So brighter spells as well. The best of those will be reserved
for Northern Ireland and perhaps western Scotland, but for much of
Scotland, very different weather to this weekend. The bridges aren't
anything to write home about. Monday night and into Tuesday, we lose that
pressure, so we get a bit of high pressure which will bring a brief
spell of drier and brighter weather. Hopefully, it'll happen through the
day on Tuesday. The biggest fly in the appointment will be the
potential for morning fog, so to clear at this time of year. But with
lighter winds and sunshine, 13 or 14 sources should feel more pleasant.
Already knocking on the door of the South West is more rain. Although we
are turning milder, those winds will bring more rain. At times, not all
the time. It may start quite dry and bright on Wednesday morning, but
then the weather fronts will accelerate in and you can see
intensified rain. A good three to six hours. It will make it feel
cool. Behind it, as it brightens up, it'll be a bit milder with showers
following on and quicker blustery breeze. It is quite chilly, but
slightly dry in the North East until late in the day. Once that weather
arrives for West Scotland, it will get stuck through Wednesday night
and into Thursday and it will be a player, actually, as we so have the
North and then this big Atlantic fleet of air. Much milder for the
country apart from the far north on Thursday. It restarts to dig its
country apart from the far north on heels in across the North on
Thursday. -- really starts. That means we could see a bit of snow on
the very tops of the Scottish mountains and a chilly day. For the
the very tops of the Scottish rest of us, Thursday will see some
sunshine, the odd rumble of thunder and heavy shower. 17 is higher than
we have seen all weekend. The next weather system will roll into bring
more rain for Friday. It joins forces and ill still be called air
in the far north of Scotland. We keep the unsettled picture, but at
On today's programme, we've seen how this mast year has brought
a bumper crop of acorns and other nuts,
At the roadside, I found wild apples,
which have grown from discarded apple cores.
I brought them to a community apple pressing in West Somerset,
and it's time to turn up the pressure and make some juice.
Lovely smell, isn't it? It is indeed.
It's always nice working with lovely smells, isn't it?
So, how do you turn this into juice now, then?
There's a bladder in the centre, which is filled with water,
off the mains, and the pressure pushes against the sides,
and the pulp gets pushed to the sides, and...
Gets turned into juice. ..turns into juice.
Oh, very clever. Let's put the lid on.
While the juicer works its magic, we've got time to join Ellie,
who visited the Northern Ireland coast to try a wild food
It's been harvested off these shores for hundreds of years.
Mac O'Neill has eaten it all his life.
is off a group of islands called the Skerries.
Mac says he's too old to row out to the Skerries these days,
but he's keen to show me his favourite harvest spot,
'Mac's used his Irish charm to hitch us a ride.'
We're getting a lift, are we? You're going to get a tow.
You're going to go a bit of Irish water skiing.
Out of a rowing boat, you know? THEY LAUGH
'A fisherman by trade, Mac used to fish off the Skerries.
'but used his rowboat to get closer to the shore
Did you ever row the whole distance from the land?
Oh, certainly, oh, yes. Lots of times. It's not a hard row.
It's only a mile and a half. Must have kept you fit!
If you work it out with the tide, the tide takes you there
and the tide will bring you back again, you know?
so we're ditching our ride to get in closer.
The temperature of the Skerries during the summer months
is warmer than other parts of Northern Ireland,
so the rocks are home to a particularly interesting flora,
like laver, an algae traditionally eaten on bread.
Legend has it that there's some rabbits out here.
We've got rabbits, yes. How did they get here?
Well, I picked a few tame ones and put them on it.
when you used to come and harvest the seaweed, then.
there's a couple of big sunk rocks there.
And when the tide goes out, the dulse comes up,
lying on the top, and you can gather it.
We're just not getting the right tide today.
This is a wee bit too breezy now. It is. So, on those sorts of days,
you'd come along, and what would you do,
you'd pick the dulse straight from the rock?
and throw it up on the rocks there and let the sun dry it.
And then once it's all dry, how do you eat it?
We would eat it just the way it is, you know? Oh, yeah. Salty.
Drinking pints! Best served with a pint.
'So, seaweed can make a tasty bar snack, but that's not all.
'Back on shore, GP Prannie Rhatigan is a self-confessed seaweed fanatic,
'particularly when it comes to eating it.'
Well, I just spotted some absolutely beautiful nori.
It's the slimy looking one. Well, it is.
But you probably would recognise it if you enjoy sushi,
because that is what is wrapped around your sushi roll. Gosh.
How many different types of seaweed have we got here?
Well, there are 600 around the coast of Ireland. Wow.
Yes, and most of them would be edible,
but palatable would be a different matter,
so there are probably 14 or so around this coastline
that we would harvest easily and in season.
That's dulse, that's an absolutely beautiful seaweed as well.
All right. And if you'd like a little nibble of that one...
Mmm. It's strange. It's got a sort of blood, iron taste.
Oh! That's incredible, because this seaweed has
the highest content of iron of any of them that we harvest today.
In fact, they say, with the research that's done,
'Well, the proof's really in the tasting.
'To show me just how versatile seaweed can be,
'Prannie's prepared a picnic feast on the beach.'
Well, it's a very seasonal pumpkin and squash,
And I brought you just a little condiment,
which is a mixed seaweed, just to sprinkle on top. Wow.
You could almost wrap yourself in a blanket with it.
It's just so thick and so warming. Oh, that's lovely.
It's really good with a little bit of bread,
which of course, has the dulse in it.
So this is sort of being treated as a herb, then, in this bread?
Prannie, the soup and the bread is fantastic,
but what else have we got for our picnic meal?
OK, we have the little dulse and cheese scones here,
and this is a local cheese, which has dulse in it as well.
And then if we still have a little bit of room,
we're going to have a little bit of carrot cake.
It's packed with the nori. 'And it doesn't just taste good.
'the potential health benefits of seaweed too.'
Just here in the University of Ulster,
there's some very interesting research going on
in the area of osteoporosis and in the area of inflammation,
and I hope that those results will contribute further
to our understanding of just how seaweeds work
'But there are some that don't need scientific approval.
'They've already declared seaweed a superfood
'that can help with weight loss and even stop your hair thinning.'
So, could this slimy sliver of marine weed
be the secret of health, happiness and eternal youth?
They regularly took seaweed baths, because if it purified the sea,
Apparently, the oils in seaweed can help with joint pain,
skin conditions, and can relax you after a very hard day.
I am prepared to undergo a clinical trial of my own.
and the hypothesis is that it's going to make me feel younger,
Normally on Countryfile, we're up hill and down dale
dressed head to toe in full wet weather gear,
and not lying in a hot bath listening to power chords.
'As for the results of this experiment,
'I think I'll have to do a bit more research first.
Back in Somerset at the apple pressing,
Probably the best apple juice I've ever tasted!
And much of it is from my own apple tree. Indeed, yes.
And how do you make sure that it doesn't go off?
We just heat it to 70 degrees, 20 minutes,
and that ensures it will keep for up to two years. Great.
out of something that would otherwise go to waste.
Yeah, and how do you turn it into cider?
Oh, apple juice wants to be cider. You don't have to do a lot.
It will make cider itself. Generally, put it into a barrel,
Otherwise, it uses the own yeasts that are there anyway.
And how long does it take from apple juice to cider?
You may be able to drink it by Christmas.
Some chaps who know a thing or two about cider
are Somerset's own pop legends, The Wurzels,
who had a number three hit with I Am A Cider Drinker in the '70s.
And here are two of them now! Hello, John! How are you?
Good to see you, Pete, and Tommy. Hiya, John. Hi.
And you brought your apples. I brought some apples, yeah.
And how did it all start, The Wurzels, then?
Because it's all about the Somerset countryside, really, isn't it?
Well, it started with Adge Cutler. Unfortunately, Adge passed on
to the great cider vat in the sky in 1974.
And he was the man that wrote I Am A Cider Drinker.
And from then on, all the songs were cider-based.
And you've been going for such a long time now,
and you seem to be ageless. Oh, thank you!
Because you've a whole new generation of fans.
are coming up and talking to you, aren't they?
Yeah. Well, it's just that we've looked old for a long time, John.
And what do you think it is about your music
It's just happy music. Anybody can sing it.
Anybody in the world can sing Wurzel music. Anybody can play it.
If you've learned to play a guitar, you can do it.
And they're easy tunes to remember, aren't they? Easy. Yeah.
a little bit of I Am A Cider Drinker? Yeah!
# When the moon shines on the cow shed
And that's it from harvest time in Somerset.
Hope you can join us next week. We're in the Yorkshire Dales.
Until then, goodbye. One more time!
In this special edition of Countryfile, John Craven is in Somerset where something strange is going on: a mast. Once every ten years or so, trees, shrubs and hedgerows all produce a super abundance of fruit. John finds out it is nature's way of compensating for bad seasons. He then heads for the hedgerows, where amongst the blackberries he finds the odd wild apple tree - the result of casually discarded apple cores. He starts picking and soon has enough to take along to a community apple pressing event, where he catches up with the original cider-drinking superstars, The Wurzels.
During his Wild Harvest, John looks back at some of the best of all things autumnal to have featured on Countryfile. Like the time Matt hooked up with Antony Worrall Thompson to celebrate British sweet chestnuts. Or when Julia got a lesson in the science of autumn from BBC weatherman John Hammond. And the time Ellie went to Wales to discover the dark arts of mushroom growing.