Foraging is exciting and very rewarding but can be very dangerous if done without doing your research. I am still a novice but find information through books and websites like foragedfoods.co.uk
There is great produce to be found and don’t forget it’s free!
During the coming months I will be looking for produce in the local fields, hedgerows and not forgetting the Malvern Hills, bring the bounty back to Colwall adding some culinary twists and creating some flavoursome dishes.
As the nights are shorter and winter is upon us nature’s larders become less bountiful but there is produce out there.
Chestnuts fall from their trees in late autumn and can be frozen ready for the winter. They are within spiky, tennis ball like cases, which lie below and around chestnut trees. Gather the nuts up soon and have them stored ready for Christmas.
Fresh chestnuts must always be cooked before use and are never eaten raw, due to their tannic acid content. You need to remove the chestnuts from their skins by either boiling or roasting them.
Simple Honey Roasted Chestnuts (need approx. 20 chestnuts)
- Preheat the oven to 210 degrees.
- Remove chestnut from its spiky outer casing and wash
- Score the flat side of the fresh chestnuts with a large X.
- Place the chestnuts in a oven-safe baking dish. Facing the scored side upward.
- Roast the chestnuts for approximately 10 to 20 minutes or until the shells have split open and blackened.
- Remove the dish from the oven with care. Peel off the blackened shells.
- Combine the honey, brown sugar and ½ tsp salt in a bowl.
- Add in cooled chestnuts and coat them in the mixture
- Return the chestnuts to the baking dish and oven. Bake until warmed, from three to five minutes.
- Remove and let stand for a couple of minutes, until the honey mixture congeals a bit. Eat warm.
Note: you can still enjoy this recipe with shop bought chestnuts, just remove from the packet and coat with the honey mixture and place in the oven to warm through.
Try adding some cinnamon or mixed spice for that Christmas feel.
Hawthorn berries are best picked when they are most ripe, which usually means the beginning of November. Hawthorns are dense and, unsurprisingly, thorny. The berries are red and fairly similar to rosehips in appearance. Foraging the berries can be time consuming as they often bring with them lots of stem when picked which need to be removed; however, the rewards can be delectable.
Simple Hawthorn Berries Jelly
- Pick 700g of hawthorn berries.
- Remove the stalks and wash, then drain.
- Put the berries into a saucepan, cover with 850ml of water.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour then Mash up the berries
- Strain the mixture over night using some muslin cloth this will keep the jelly clear but do not squeeze just let the juice drip.
- For every 550ml of juice measure out you will need 450g of sugar.
- Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon.
- Mix the sugar and lemon juice into a saucepan along with the hawthorn juice. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring continuously until the sugar has dissolved.
- Now rapid boil for 10 minutes until the jelly has reached setting point. The setting point is normally around 105 degrees, you can carefully spoon a little mix onto a cool plate, leave for a moment then push with your finger to see if it crinkles or is set
- Skim off any foam from the top of the liquid, and pour into sterilised, warm jars and screw on the lids.
Tip: This jelly goes great with cheese!