Foraginglondon's Blog

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Rosehip liqueur 26/11/2010

Filed under: cinamon stick,cloves,foraging,lemon,rosehip,sugar — foraginglondon @ 12:17
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I was wondering what to blog about next. Well last Friday I went foraging at the Welsh Harp in NW London, next to Brent Cross Shopping Centre. This is a beautiful tranquil place in the middle of suburbia, and a welcome change to the shopping next door. Anyway I digress. I went to pick rosehips, which I had seen in abundance when I went the previous week to pick hawthorns for the haw biscuits. I started picking from the various bushes by the main road and gradually worked my way along the path. First tip, rosehips come from bushes and have thorns. An obvious observation, but one I did not heed. The cuts and scratches have now faded, but recommend wearing gloves in future. I also tried cutting them with scissors, which might be an option though getting to some of them was a pain.

I was walking along the path, when I saw someone else picking rosehips. I thought this was someone I had gone foraging with at the Welsh Harp before, but on closer inspection it wasn’t. By this time my starring had aroused curiosity and I entered into conversation. Low and behold it was a lovely lady called Bo (Bozenna) who had driven over from Islington especially to pick rosehips for her homemade rosehip liqueur. Well, I couldn’t let this year go by without trying another alcoholic recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilogram rose hips
  • 300 grams brown sugar
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • Shredded lemon peel (from 1/2 lemon)
  • 1,5 liter brandy

Method:

Wash and clean rose hips, mix them with sugar and let them stand in cold place over night.

sugar covered rosehips

sugar covered rosehips

Next day, pour brandy over rose hips and sugar, and add cinnamon, cloves and shredded lemon peel in it. Cover the dish with rose hip liqueur in it and let it stand 2 weeks in light place.

rosehip liqueur ingredients

Rosehip liqueur ready to marinate

Rosehip liqueur ready to marinate

rosehip liqueur ingredients

Strain the liqueur, pour it in the liqueur bottles and let it stand 4 weeks more before you serve it.



 

Medlar, apple & pear chutney 18/11/2010

Filed under: apple,foraging,garlic,garlic,ginger,medlar,salt,vinegar — foraginglondon @ 13:21

Afternoon folks,

I made the medlar and apple jelly yesterday, as you could see from my previous post. SLight mistake my end and the jelly didn’t set, which means re-boiling, re-testing, sterilising the jars again and re-jarring. A huge pain in the backside and harsh lesson in the process.

Anyway, today is about using the medlar and apple pulp to make medlar, apple and pear chutney. I am using this process from the one described by hugh fearnley-whittingstall of River Cottage fame. What I really like is the fact that you can use the main ingredients twice. The pulp was used to make the jelly, the flavour and juice removed and is now making another flavour packed product.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tbsp sunflower oil (I used rapeseed oil)
  • 4 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp crushed black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 bulb of garlic, peeled and grated
  • 5-7cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 6 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2kg Bramley apples, cored and chopped (I used some pears as only had 1.25 kg of bramley apples)
  • 500g dark Muscovado sugar
  • 500ml cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • The left over pulp from the medlar jelly, or about 700g pears, peeled, cored and chopped

Method:

1. Warm the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and add the spices, stirring well and frying until the mustard seeds just begin to pop. This will only take a minute or so – be careful not to scorch the spices. Add the garlic, ginger and chillies, stir well, and fry gently for few minutes.

2. Tip the chopped apples into a large preserving pan and pour over the spices.

3. Add the sugar, vinegar and salt, along with the left over pulp from the medlar jelly, or the pears if you are using them instead.

medlar pulp with everything else

medlar pulp with everything else

4. Stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves, then simmer for about 2 hours until thickened, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if you think it’s beginning to look too thick.

5. Bottle in warm, sterilised jars, filling the jars really full as the mixture will shrink slightly as it cools. Seal with vinegar-proof lids.


 

Medlar and Apple Jelly 17/11/2010

Filed under: apple,foraging,medlar,sugar — foraginglondon @ 14:51

I’ve nearly finished the Haw biscuits. Hope you managed to grab a few whilst they are still on the trees. I went to the Islington Farmers Market over the weekend and picked up some medlars. I had been on the lookout for them during the autumn period, but there doesn’t seem to be any growing around my way. So, there they were a few punnets of brownish apple/rose looking things. I decided to buy a couple and see what can be done with them.

Medlars are actually part of the rose family and not native to the UK. They do not ripen and require bletting. I suggest looking up Medlars to understand more about them.

Medlar

Medlar

The first recipe I found was for Medlar & Apple jelly, and the pulp from this can then be made into medlar & apple chutney.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg medlars (quartered but not peeled)
  • 500g Bramley cooking apples
  • About 650g granulated sugar

Method:

1. Quarter the medlars. Peel and chop the apples and tip the fruit into a preserving pan, or any heavy-bottomed, deep, wide pan, with just enough water to cover.

chopped medlars and apples

chopped medlars and apples

2. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes, until the medlars are soft and pulpy.

3. Strain through a jelly bag on a stand set over a large bowl. Don’t be tempted to poke, squeeze or force the pulp through the bag or you’ll get a cloudy jelly, just leave it to drip over the bowl for several hours or overnight. Don’t discard the pulp though – it’s perfect for adding to ourchutney.

4. Measure the juice, pour into a clean preserving pan and bring to boiling point before adding the sugar (for every 1l of juice, add 650g of sugar). Stir, in one direction only to reduce foam, until sugar is totally dissolved then boil rapidly for 8 minutes or until the setting point is reached.

Boiling medlar jelly

Boiling medlar jelly

If you have a preserving thermometer, it should read 104.5°C; if you don’t have a thermometer, drop a little jelly onto a saucer which you have chilled in the fridge. Let the jelly cool for a minute then push it gently with your finger. If it crinkles, it has reached its setting point. Remove from the heat and skim off any scum using a slotted spoon.

Testing the setting point

Testing the setting point

5. Decant carefully into a warm jug and pour into warm, sterilised jars.

Jarred medlar jelly

Jarred medlar jelly


 

Hawthorn biscuits 15/11/2010

Filed under: foraging — foraginglondon @ 11:00

As I found out on Thursday the hawthorns are almost completely gone. If you have some hawthorns or have some time to see if any are left then I recommend this lovely fruity biscuit recipe. I personally went down to the Welsh Harp on Thursday, couldn’t find many Hawthorns except on one tree, which is on my foraging google map. However, there are plenty of rosehips still there, and now that the leaves have gone it is even easier to find.

I have reproduced this recipe from the wonderful Celtnet website, which contains many traditional English recipes using foraged fruits.

Ingredients:

For the Fruit Purée:
300g hawthorn berries (haws)
300ml water

For the Biscuits:
150ml hawthorn purée
80g wholemeal flour
80g butter
100g brown sugar
1 tbsp runny honey
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
slivered almonds, to garnish

Method:

Combine the haws and water in a pan, bring to a boil then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the fruit have broken down to a pulp.

Boiling hawthorns

Pass through a fine-meshed sieve, pressing down with the back of a spoon to squeeze as much of the fruit pulp through as possible, leaving only the seeds and skins behind.

Take 150ml of the hawthorn pulp and use for the biscuits. Cream the butter in a bowl then work in the flour until smooth before adding the sugar and then the fruit puree. Now add all the remaining ingredients, mixing well.

Drop heaped tablespoons of the batter onto a well-greased baking tray, setting them at least 5cm apart then gently press a slivered almond into the top of each one. Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 180°C and bake for about 16 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Allow to cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an air-tight tin before use.

Hawthorn biscuits

Hawthorn biscuits

 

Apple and Ginger Jam 05/11/2010

Filed under: apple,foraging,ginger,sugar — foraginglondon @ 10:24

Here is a fantastic recipe for using up a glut of apples, and making something that has a little bit of a kick in it for your breakfast toast.

glut of apples

glut of apples

I was hesitant at first, but since trying this jam this week I am converted.

Ingredients:

  • 3 kilos apples
  • 3 kilos sugar
  • 100g crystalised ginger (available in larger supermarkets)

Method:

  • Peel and core apples.
  • Cover skins and cores with water and boil to a pulp.
  • Strain through a jelly bag.
  • Return this liquid to the pan and add sugar.
  • Stir till dissolved and add chopped apples and ginger and boil till sets – about 1 hour

A few pointers from my experience of making this.

  1. The reason for boiling up the cores and skins is that they contain the majority of the pectin. Pectin is what holds together fruit, and what will ensure your jam sets, rather than remaining a liquid. Some fruits are high in this and others not. Apples have plenty, but pears as I found out the hard way do not. Hence my pear marmalade did not set, and I had to re-boil with added pectin and lemon juice. Maybe this should be the subject of another blog as I learn’t plenty about this fairly dull liquid.
  2. You can replace the jelly bag with muslin, but the jelly bag will ensure the liquid is clear and no bits of peel get through into the jam.
  3. I found that it took quite some time boiling the mixture before getting to the setting point, so leave plenty of time or use recommended jam making equipment rather than regular pots and pans.
  4. I was also scared that the ginger flavour would not come through. I ended up adding more ginger (nearer 200g, which is what it is sold as) to the mixture. I recommend you taste the mixture and decide exactly how much ginger to add.
  5. Finally my mixture went a dark red, which is contrary to the green of the apple and the yellow of the ginger. I assume this is the sugar, but could be wrong.

Many thanks to Gillian Painter for the recipe

Enjoy making!

 

What to do with Lavender stems? 04/11/2010

Filed under: foraging,lavender — foraginglondon @ 11:31

My foraging blog so far has dealt with food, yet there are plenty of materials out and about in London that could and in some cases are used for non-food purposes.

Richard Reynolds of Guerilla Gardening fame has planted a raised bed in Westminster with lavender (amongst other things). He harvests the lavender each year, and once it has dried out creates lavender pillows. He is currently selling them for £10 or you can go to the Liberty website and buy them for considerably more!

This lavender pillows make use of the buds, yet most of what is picked are the stems. I harvested a whole load of lavender myself this year (the now dried buds are waiting to be turned into pillows). I wondered what could be done with the stems.

Lavender stems

Lavender stems

I was even able to make use of the red elastic bands left by the local postman. Thanks Royal Mail 🙂

I found the following video on youtube, which shows how the stems can be used to make logs. For those you who do not know lavender has anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties and is great for keeping linen bacteria free.

The video also points out that they can be used as fire-starters due to the highly volatile oils. However, in London this benefit would be smaller, but would be interested to see how they work on outdoor fires and barbeques.

Lavender stem incense

I found this idea below from the Llewellyn Journal. I have not tried yet myself, but would be interested to know what happens if someone has given it a go.

Remove flowers from dried lavender stems and save for another use. Soak the stems in a water/potassium nitrate bath, 1 cup water to 1 tablespoon potassium nitrate, for thirty minutes. Remove from solution and dry completely on paper towels. Place the end of a stick in an incense holder or a jar of dry sand and light. They will burn slowly like incense. 

 

Crab Apple Wine 03/11/2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — foraginglondon @ 12:26
Tags: , , , ,

Here is one of the easiest recipe I’ve tried this Autumn, and one that can still be tried. There are still crab apples on some trees, and enough on the tree outside my flat to give this wine a go.
I have now bottled the wine, and it has a fruity smell. I really think this is worth trying as the equipment needed is minimal and the ingredients needs is also minimal and at little cost.

Ingredients:

  • 4 litres of crab apples
  • 4 litres of water
  • 1 1/2 kilos brown sugar

Method:

Soak the crab apples (sliced) in the water for two weeks, stirring daily. (I personally did it for one week in a fairly warm flat. The sight of flies hovering over the bucket and scum forming on top forced my decision).

Sliced crab apples in water

Sliced crab apples in water

Strain the liquid and add sugar and stir well and often til it begins to ferment. (you will know it has begun fermenting as bubbles start rising to the top).
Put it in a cask or jar, cover it with a cloth and leave til fermentation ceases.

Bottle and leave three months before drinking.

Crab apple wine bottled

Crab apple wine bottled

 

 
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