Author: Rachel Lambert

Foraging: Free Gifts, Freely Given

Foraging: Free Gifts, Freely Given

It’s a fresh winter morning and I am sitting watching the sky lighten and the day begin. I am just sitting, doing nothing, while the day is offering nothing less than a performance. Blue sky starts to peek through, charcoal grey clouds move slowly in […]

Winter Creamy Alexander Soup (vegan)

Winter Creamy Alexander Soup (vegan)

I’ve just returned home from a winter foraging course where we covered 10 wilds that you can pick here in Cornwall through winter. I love foraging in the cooler months and there’s a great choice of wild pickings too. I’ve written about and sung the […]

How to Forage Shellfish Safely

How to Forage Shellfish Safely

I love foraging, I love the adventure of it, the thrill, the simplicity and the sheer satisfaction of collecting, preparing and eating my own gathered wild food. The last time I foraged for mussels I was with a friend, it was a wild, windy day and we found ourselves on the beach at low tide surrounded by nice, plump mussels. There and then we made a dinner plan and a spontaneous feast was foraged.

Bivalve molluscs

 

We carefully picked the largest, healthiest looking mussels, knowing the beach we were on was clean, and we discarded any that we un-attached, partially open or broken. We walked away, happy with our booty and I reflected on my reasons for not foraging shellfish more regularly. Quite simply, I want to stay safe and well. Food poisoning is not my idea of fun and I want to avoid it at all costs.

With that in mind, I thought I’d write a few notes on how to stay safe and well when foraging for shellfish. There are 3 key elements, then a few extra tips of cooking and preparing shellfish. These notes are brief, though hopefully they will add to your knowledge and help you enjoy what you forage.

No. 1. Always pick away from sources of pollution

This might be sewage, towns or other sources of pollution. I always recommend checking online and with locals, local knowledge can give a lot of insight into this.

No. 2. Wash thoroughly

Just because something is wild, it doesn’t mean it is clean and good for you, below are some thorough notes on rinsing different shellfish for food consumption.

No. 3. Make sure they’re alive

Sometimes it is useful to state the obvious, and, obviously, act on it too. Dead shellfish, are not good to eat, so discard shellfish that are dead when you forage them, or do not open when cooked.

————————————————————-

Cockles – Winkles – Periwinkles – Mussels – Clams

If you are lucky enough to find any of these, here are some extra notes on cooking and rinsing them. Rinsing is often known as purging, and provides time to rid the shellfish of any unwanted extras, from toxins, bacteria and micro-organisms to sand, mud and anything untoward in their guts. It is well worth taking the time to do this, obviously.

Bivalve molluscs

 

What water and how much to use when purging? 

If your shellfish are from the sea, then purging in salted water will be the best option, sea salt that is. The amounts are; 35g of sea salt to every litre of water, or clean, filtered sea water. The shellfish just need to be covered with water, no more or less. Purging means just letting the shellfish sit and soak in this water for the suggested amount of time.

If the shellfish have been foraged from estuaries, then fresh water should also be fine, though you might want to add a little salt. Cockles, mussels and clams are all shellfish I mention in my blog; What can you forage on the Helford?

 

Cockles – Rinse through with fresh water, then soak for 6 hours and check they are still alive before cooking for 5 minutes

Winkles and Periwinkles – Rinse through with fresh water, then purge for 12 hours, plunge into boiling water for 10 minutes

Mussels – Using a knife, scrape off all the barnacles, rinse twice with fresh water and check they are alive before cooking

Clams – Rinse with fresh water, then purge for 6 hours and cook for 10 minutes

The Seaweed Forager – A Podcast with Rachel Lambert

The Seaweed Forager – A Podcast with Rachel Lambert

Karen Pirie, a Cornwall based podcaster recently joined me on a seaweed foraging course to record a podcast for her new venture; Cornwall Woman. I’ve known Karen for a few years and find her easy company. She travelled with me to meet our group of keen […]

The First Frost and What it Means for Us and Wild Fruits

The First Frost and What it Means for Us and Wild Fruits

Depending where you are in the country, the first frost might have been and gone weeks ago. If the temperature has already plummeted, you may have seen fruits of sloes, rosehips, rowan berries, haws and maybe even blackberries covered in a crisp and magically frosted […]

Wild Singing – Rock Samphire Verse

Wild Singing – Rock Samphire Verse

 

Back in the warmth of the summer, I had a glorious few hours with singer Kelsey Michael. We’d been getting excited about words and tunes and at last had found a moment to share a walk and sing together outside.

This quick video is of us singing, what Kelsey now calls; The Foraging Song. The tune is from the Cornish Can Dilly song. Here we share the Rock Samphire verse which we created together to help you remember a little bit about it’s qualities!

If  you’ve  joined one of my foraging courses before, you’ll probably be familiar with this snippet of information;

‘Samphire growing on the rocks
Always there were the sea is not’

The song is in its early stages, open to having information added over time, about the same plant or additional ones (we currently have a Sea Spinach verse as well). I also share a popular recipe for Rock Samphire here; Rock Samphire Salsa Verde.

This is one of the elements we will be offering on our Wild Singing Walks – sharing anecdotes about plants, and potentially creating songs together with participants.

Rock Samphire growing on the rocksHead and shoulders of Kelsey Michael, wild singing walks

(The Rock Samphire edible plant we sing about, and Kelsey Michael on a stormy, winter’s day)

Kelsey and I share a love of the land, sea and being present to the elements. Over the years we’ve danced together (for work and play), sea swum as well as eaten and celebrated lots together. I’ve even been a singing student of hers, which gave me the confidence to work on and sing a song solo in front of a small group.

Kelsey is a fantastic singing facilitator and a professional singer songwriter in her own right, having performed Internationally as well as locally. Our new venture together, offering Wild Singing Walks (including wild tasters and a solo al fresco performance by Kelsey), is guaranteed to be a unique and inspired experience – watch this space!

Tasty Dulse Seaweed Soda Bread (Gluten-free)

Tasty Dulse Seaweed Soda Bread (Gluten-free)

No, I’m not gluten-free, though this recipe for Dulse Seaweed Soda Bread is delicious and was more popular than the normal bread I baked for an event, so I thought I’d share it here. The basis of this recipe came from my sister (the gluten-free […]

Taking Care of the Elders

Taking Care of the Elders

Here I discuss my love of Elder and how we can take care of this richly providing plant. As September arrives and passes, I love to see the decadent fruit of the Elder tree (Sambucus nigra); heavily laden fruits, dropping off her flexible branches. I […]

Hawthorn Berry Ketchup

Hawthorn Berry Ketchup

It’s time to share this simple recipe. You’ll be amazed how much it tastes like ketchup! I always think it is best to make together, as it takes some effort, though is worth it in the end. Here I share the basic recipe for turning haw berries into ketchup with no tomatoes in sight, then as you scroll down I share a little more about the details of making this great relish and dip.

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyana) is a common tree found in hedgerows and woodland, and it fruits best in full sun. There is lots I can tell you about Hawthorn, though here I am focusing on a single recipe. If you want more, here’s my recipe for Hawthorn Berry Fruit Leather or join me on an autumnal wild food foraging course.

Crataegus monogyna made into a relish

 

Hawthorn Berry Ketchup Recipe

Ingredients

(Makes approx. 280ml)

250g haw berries

150ml cider vinegar

150ml water

85g soft brown sugar

couple of pinches of sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Strip the berries from their stalks and wash them. Put into a pan with the vinegar and water, cook over a gentle heat for 30 minutes. Press the pulp through a sieve and return both the pulp and the liquid to the pan with sugar and seasonings. Boil for 10 minutes. Bottle and seal. Great with bangers and mash, dip chips into it, have with meats, bread sticks or invent new ways to enjoy it.

 

A  little more about the process…

When I first made this ketchup it was a communal affair; we were three people de-stalking the berries and plopping them in the pan before we weighed and simmered them. That takes a little time in itself. Next comes the mashing – we took it in turns to energetically mash the fruits through a sieve, knowing that the more we mashed, the thicker the ketchup would be. Thick ketchup was good, we agreed, so 20 minutes rather than 10 minutes, or even 30 minutes felt worth it.

Mashing the berries of Crataegus monogyna to make hawthorn berry ketchup Showing the effort - haw fruit pulp being pushed through a sieve

Every time we needed to take a break from mashing, we’d scrape the oozing haw fruit pulp through the sieve and into the bowl, along with the juices.

Crataegus monogyna pulp and juice for making hawthorn berry ketchup

Here’s the resulting, thick juice and pulp before adding sugar (you’ll now realise how much sugar is in ketchup!), and salt and pepper and simmering for a final 10 minutes before bottling or storing in a jar. Look at that wonderful colour. This really is a great dip, full of goodness and wild vitality and keeps well for months in the fridge.

Crataegus monogyna

Wild Bilberries in Cornwall

Wild Bilberries in Cornwall

Towards the end of the summer I was walking through a woodland in south Cornwall, neither near my destination, nor my starting point. I was carrying a large amount of drinking water for a wild camping trip I was doing with a friend, and sincerely […]