Urban Foraging with Forage Botanicals

A foragers basket

Not used to the freezing cold weather, when the Romans invaded Britain they took to stuffing their trousers with stinging nettles- the sting’s inflammation caused a heat sensation that soothed winters bite.

That’s one of the brilliant nuggets and insights I had into herbs and our environment while on a foraging walk with Natasha from Forage Botanicals.

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Elderflower Fritters

Foraging for elderflower

A basket of elderflower headsFrying elderflower heads to make frittersForaging for elderflower with the localsIn the kitchen with Temba the dog making elderflower frittersElderflower fritters with honey and yoghurt

Elderflowers are out of here. We’re waiting on the berries now to get brewing some syrups and baking some puds. How’s that for a tree that just keeps giving?

[I however just printed a rogue roll of film with a recipe on it from the flowers… so you can just bank this one till next year].

Elderflower fritters. Made from an almost pancake batter, these guys are a cracking way to do something different with elderflowers after you have of course crafted enough infused gin to sink a very merry ship.

First job after giving the stems enough of a trim to leave just the heads is to get rid of any bugs by giving them a shake and maybe a wash. For a basket of heads (say 20-ish) grab 200g of plain flour and sift it in to a bowl before mixing in one beaten egg. Then add in 300ml of sparkling water a bit at a time, mixing as you go. You’ll end up with a smooth paste and it’s at this point you can chuck in a tablespoon of sugar too before putting the mixture in the fridge for a half hour. After a little rest, get some oil on the go- say enough to be an inch or two deep in your frying pan of choice. Make sure it is super hot (you can test by dropping some batter in there and seeing if it quickly turns golden) and then lower your elderflower heads in there by the stem. You could use some tongs if your hands aren’t made of something inflammable. Once they are golden (which shouldn’t be long), pull em’ out and get rid of excess oil by dropping them on to a tea towel. Then eat them quick. We dipped ours into a yoghurt and honey mix but there are rumours out there of vanilla or cinnamon sugars making a happy combo too.

Delish.

Elderflower Gin

Elderflower Skyline

Foraging for Elderflower

Elderflower Gin

Straining the gin infusion

Elderflower infused gin

Elderflower infused fun

Bicycle rides are a pretty heady affair at the mo. Your nose is affronted with blooming elderflower and with this summer sunshine enhancing the scent, it can make you a bit woozy.

Tell you what else makes you woozy. Gin.

The thing is, it’s just so easy to make (elderflower infused gin that is). Gosh darn it.

I mean for one afternoon of merriment in the park with your nearest and dearest all you need is the leftovers of whatever bottle of gin you have in the cupboard (we had about 300ml), a couple of tablespoons of sugar for that amount and enough elderflower heads (picked in the morning is best) to stuff in to your chosen vessel. Chuck the sugar and gin in together first and give it a shake till the sugar is dissolved. Then add in the elderflower heads, getting them nicely submerged and suitably ginny (best to shake off any bugs from the elderflower heads before you pop them in too). Hide the jar in a dark space for 5 days or so so it can do its infusion thing (giving it a shake every now and then) and that’s pretty much it. You then need to strain the heads and pollen out- you could do this using a muslin cloth, we just used some tea bag filters.

What you’ll be left with is a golden elixir. Truly.

With some tonic, ice and a sprig of mint you are away. Also makes a pretty sweet gift I reckon. I’d certainly be chuffed with some foraged elderflower gin.

A Simple Lunch | Foraging for cockles

All you need for a simple cockle lunch on the beach

Cockles, whelks, winkles and the like seem to have a bad old rep next to the scallop, oyster and other such illustrious shelly company. It’s a cultural mileu I can’t get my head around, and am all up for bucking.

In my mind cockling can be found in the phrase dictionary under ‘the most simple of pleasures,’ as these guys are not only a blast to find but truly, and simply, tasty.

From down here in my corner of Dorset May Day is even more than the glorious posies on the door tradition (head to Little Green Shed to learn more about that) as from today we can officially cockle for our supper from the low tides of Poole Harbour.

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Meet Mehmet | Foraging, slow food & sharing from a mountainside in Cyprus

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Those are carob pods between Mehmets hands.

Four seeds from the pods found on the carob tree, of which one ancient one stands among Mehmets olive grove, is equal to one carat. Those seeds define an age-old way of measuring and establishing the value of precious stones and metals. That pod contains a sweet elixir too- it ups the blood count and goes gloriously well in a traditional cake (which I can vouch is made excellently by Mehmets mother)…

Mehmet is full of these nature infused gems- a natural byproduct of a childhood spent foraging with his grandfather on a mountainside in Cyprus where I was lucky to spend a few sweet days recently.

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