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Foraged by Fern: Hedgerow jam cheesecakes

For the average Roman citizen, refrigeration was but a dream (though surprisingly complex alternatives have been found). The best solutions to food spoiling were drying, salting, smoking, pickling or fermenting – but the finest of course, was jam. Now believed to be a Roman invention, Jam is a staple of the English cupboard, and whilst you’ve probably had a crack at strawberry, apricot, blackcurrant and perhaps even a raspberry, wait until you get a load of blackberry, elderberry and crab apple!

We spoke to a master of foraging, and an authority on wild jams – Fern Freud of Foraged by Fern, based in Sussex. Used to exploring the UK by canoeing, wild swimming and hiking, Fern forages the fields, hedgerows and coast for delicacies, crafting dishes from what she finds. This week, it’s a jam-based foraged dessert to inspire envy!

The Jam - Blackberries, elderberries and crab apples – where to?

Blackberries may well be the most commonly foraged item in the UK, ever. Almost anyone and everyone’s plucked a few of these finger-staining treats from a hedgerow at some point, and probably even knows where to go back to find them. But what about elderberries and crab apples?

Crab apples are native to the UK, and possibly the smallest sort of apple you’ll find. If you’re lucky, you might have one in your garden, or know someone that does – or even spot them boxed on the street from gardeners with a surplus. High in pectin and acid content, they’re absolutely perfect for using in jam. If you find them wild, just twist the stems, and if the apple comes away, it’s ripe!

Elderberries, which appear after the familiar white elderflower blossom has fallen, you might’ve already spotted and wondered whether about the edibility of. A word of warning: elderberries are edible, but ARE mildly poisonous until cooked. They can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea if not cooked first to remove the lectin and cyanide (yes, that cyanide). No other part of the tree is edible!

How to make Hedgerow Jam Cheesecakes


  • Hob
  • Small saucepan
  • Cup measurers
  • Food processor (to blitz those biscuits)
  • Muffin tin
  • Muffin paper cases


  • 380g of mixed elderberries (stems removed) blackberries, crab apples, cored and roughly chopped
  • 300g of granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 2 packs ginger nut biscuits
  • ¼ pack of butter
  • 240ml cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • 452g full-fat brick cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 66g of granulated sugar
  • 28g of plain yogurt
  • 14ml fresh lemon juice
  • 7ml pure vanilla extract


  1. To make the jam, simply chop the apple and add it to a pan with your blackberries and elderberries (roughly 380g of fruit). Add lemon juice and zest.

  2. Place the pan on a gentle simmer, so the fruit releases its juices and begins to soften. This should take around 10-15 minutes.

  3. Add the 300g of granulated sugar and continue to cook until it reaches a jammy consistency. Set aside and make your cheesecakes!

  4. Crush the biscuits until they are a powdery consistency (either I the food processor or with a rolling pin in a bag) and add melted butter. Stir until well combined then add your mixture to the bottom of 20 paper muffin cases (in a muffin tin).

  5. (Optional) Bake these for 5 minutes at 177°C and allow to cool.

  6. Then whip your heavy cream in one bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar together in another, and then combine all with your yoghurt, lemon juice and vanilla.

  7. Spoon over the filling, top with your hedgerow jam and allow to cool!

Filmed at The Buzzardry treehouse in Sussex