A few days ago we shared the start of our fruit and nut foraging season - the nuts are for Christmas. Yes, we mentioned it, start crying it's 111 days away and we're laying down our winter kitchen - the great thing about learning to jam, chutney and pickle (and yes, even freeze) means that we can go out and #forage for #freefood. Consider those hashtags, aren't they cool? Just because we put a silly hashtag against free food, you're interested and we bet you have never tasted a chutney that was free and so tasty as this one.
Friday, September 4, 2015
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Even though we are sinking out of summer, August and September are our favourite months for foraging as we pass into early autumn. We have throughout the summer been adding to our foraging map; Carol laments the cherries dropping outside the doctors and ignored by everyone but us, Andrew cries when more hazel coppices are pulled down and Little D points out anything that looks edible and learns what is good and what is bad. We are not experts, and still carry a foraging book with us (Food for Free by Richard Mabey) and if we are not sure we take a leaf home with us and Google it. We don't do mushrooms because we're not confident about them. Sometimes common sense prevails and we have discovered that in the two mile radius we call our patch, we come across no other foragers; we do come across lots of people asking what we are doing and that is often punctuated by, 'Why?' We were once asked to get off a canal footpath as we picked blackberries it was for walkers not cheapskates. Sadly, this is just a sign of how far we have distanced ourselves from the land around us, we ramble through it but it is all about the walk rather than knowing the land and the seasons. A forager walking in spring will be out for the early herbs but will note what is in blossom and how heavy that blossom is. They will return in late summer and early autumn for a promised bounty of nuts and berries and a good forager will take what they need not what they want. They will take only what they can eat over the coming months rather than foraging everything out of existence. If you strip an entire tree of fruit you hit the ecosystem and food chain hard, we have seen this with local whinberries around here. Stripped a few years ago and sold on local markets, the low growing bushes have never really recovered and each year we find very little of them to eat. Yet, we have to remain positive, each year we lean down to see if there is anything there but there hasn't been anything for three years and we suspect that they have been foraged to death. But we can hope they will recover. We forage what we need and over the Bank Holiday weekend we got out between the showers - come on, it's England, it's a Bank Holiday - and started our first foraging foray for wild hedgerow fruit down in the valley.