Tag: Foraging

The Best Nettle Syrup Recipe

The Best Nettle Syrup Recipe

I recently went out for a meal at a restaurant and they had wild nettle cordial on the drinks menu. Ooh, as a forager with a soft spot for ‘sweet’ I just had to try it. I must say, I was disappointed. I even asked […]

Spring Dessert: Nettle and Honey Cake with Gorse Flower Syrup

Spring Dessert: Nettle and Honey Cake with Gorse Flower Syrup

Five years ago I wrote a blog about my Nettle and Honey Cake – it went down a treat. Named as; ‘probably the best cake I’ve ever had’ by one enthusiastic forager, I was super pleased the result. Every so often I like to repeat […]

Making Nettle Pakoras

Making Nettle Pakoras

stivesscreenprint

Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) are one of my favourite spring greens, and this was a recipe I shared with Graham Pullen of St Ives Screen Printing at Tom’s Yard. Graham is keen on making art affordable and accessible, and has incorporated the recipe into one of his hand-printed individual cards (featured above). I love both Graham’s botanical drawing of the humble nettle, and his interpretation into print.

The last time I made this recipe was for my friend’s birthday last spring. We had a ‘bring a contribution’ curry dinner and the range of curries, samosas and spiced breads was great. These nettle pakoras fitted in perfectly. The only down-side was my dog sneakily finishing off the cooking oil. Trust me, you don’t want to know the end of that part of the story.

Urtica dioicaStinging nettle recipe (Urtica dioica)

The fourth time I made them was when I ran a nettle day at Bramble Cottage. It was great having a 6 month old, budding forager with us, gurgling, watching and smelling the various stages of the process. Perhaps that’s where this nursery rhythm tune came from, finding a soothing way to give a little extra information about the humble stinging nettles.

You can watch the process and hear the song in this video; ‘Making Nettle Pakoras’ below. The reason for the song lyrics is explained in my blog When NOT to eat Stinging Nettles, yet the song is self-explanatory really, so just watch and listen…

 

The recipe?

Do get in touch with Graham, and he can show you, sell you or tell you where to get a great range of foraging recipe cards, including this one with the full recipe. For more ideas, why not browse my Stinging nettles blog. Nettles are regularly included in my wild food foraging courses too.

Western Morning News, March 2019

Western Morning News, March 2019

Western Morning News_08-03-2019_A_015_RWM1ST Click on the link or image above to read the full article about singing in the landscape and combining foraging with songs about the plants.

The Lessons of Making Gorse Flower Fudge

The Lessons of Making Gorse Flower Fudge

Gorse Flower Fudge Oh my god, I had such hopes with this recipe, I really thought I’d clinched it first time (which happens occasionally, though is definitely not a given). Heating it slowly, the smell of the gorse flowers was divine and the flavour of […]

Drying Dulse Seaweed at Home

Drying Dulse Seaweed at Home

Palmata palmaria

I have a little secret, although I don the appearance of a forager, at heart, I’m an artist, an optimistic awed by the natural world kind-of-one. As an artist, seaweed does it for me. I can spend hours looking in a rock pool at the beautiful colours and textures, how the water moves the weeds and the play of light on the water.

As an artist playing at being a forager (albeit teaching foraging for 12 years and writing books about it), being able to harvest and eat these works of art is an added bonus. Last week was the first good spring tide of the year, which was a wonderful opportunity to hand pick a few seaweeds for personal use. Dulse (Palmaria palmata) is one of my favourite snacks when I’m working at home, it’s nutritious, salty and tasty. There’s lots I could tell you about it, and indeed I do in my seaweed book, and on my seaweed courses.

How and why to dry seaweeds

Traditionally, seaweeds are dried to preserve them. I like to taste dulse fresh on the beach, though if I’m picking more than a few fronds I dry them at home. There are many ways to dry seaweeds, which I discuss on my courses and in my book, though my preferred way is; naturally. Energy is a big topic these days. This is a great way to reduce and be efficient with our energy consumption in order to respect and take care of our one and precious earth by using the natural energy of the sun.

So, I dry dulse over clothes racks and on tea towels in my sunny, warm kitchen. It only takes a day (or two if it’s cooler).

Palmata palmaria

This morning, as I descended into my kitchen and opened the curtains I entered another artist’s heaven.

I loved how the light played on this beautiful red seaweed as it was drying on tea towels. Every stage of seaweeds I love. The carefully harvesting of them (just enough and only half of each dulse plant), rinsing and patting them dry, laying them out on tea towels and hanging them on clothes racks. Watching them shrink and dry, checking there’s no damp clumps. Then storing them in clean jars for snacks or to incorporate into potato dishes, quiche, dukka, and chapatis, recipes which you can see in my seaweed book. I also have a blog for a more-ish Dulse Soda Bread (gluten-free) which comes with several recommendations, whether or not you’re gluten-free.

Palmata palmaria  Palmata palmaria

Palmata palmaria  Palmata palmaria

Tips for drying seaweeds at home

  • If you can, dry them naturally in a warm room or airing cupboard
  • First rinse and pat dry the seaweeds, removing as much liquid as you can. You can also use a salad spinner for this
  • For small seaweeds, lay them out over tea towels with enough space around them to let them breathe
  • For larger seaweeds hang over clothes racks
  • Check the seaweeds regularly to make sure no wet clumps are forming
  • Once dried, store in clean jars, open bowls or containers
The Singing Forager

The Singing Forager

  We’ve been having a lot of fun, Kelsey and I. We’ve been working pretty hard too. Kelsey Michael has been teaching me songs, I’ve been creating quirky little ditties about plants I see and eat along the coast paths and hedgerows, and we’ve been walking. […]

Foraging as a Way to Feel Connected

Foraging as a Way to Feel Connected

I’m sitting listening to Radio 4 (again) and the episode of the Digital Human called ‘Tribe’. This particular episode includes a focus on the role of hunting and gathering as a way of working together and supporting each other. Indeed, our ancestors worked together closely […]

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 who know their beach well and its cleanliness, or lack of. I’m always grateful for fishermen who share with me where to get clean mussels from.

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.

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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

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 […]