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Foraging News from Hedgerow Harvest
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Hello


We've had a great year and have enjoyed meeting many of you on our courses. Some of you have been several times - thanks for your support.  We continue to get some great feedback on the courses - read what people say here. Among my many memories from the courses this year will be the delicious meals course attendees cooked, the new seaweed course, the lobster on a corporate seashore walk and picnic, the patch of Horn of Plenty on a fungus foray and the Eel in a drop net on a summer foraging course!

We are starting to think about next year and potential new offerings to extend the range of courses we offer.  If you have foraging related topics you would like to learn please drop us a line. If you came on a course and had a great time and learnt lots we feel we succeeded. We hope to see you next year on another one. If you can't think what you want for Christmas, one of our course gift vouchers might be just what you need.

Best wishes,

James

Don't give up - still lots about

It's wet and windy outside and our foraging events are winding down with the last fungi event of the season run last week. But get the boots and waterproofs on and make use of the daylight as there are still some wild food goodies to be found.

Fungi-wise, the late season species are about - Wood and Field Blewitts, Hedgehog Mushrooms and Autumn Chanterelle in good numbers. There are also reports of good quality Ceps and big Horn of Plenty finds. As a truffle hunter, all the rain is good news, though you do get filthy.

Easy to identify, very tasty, often plentiful - the Hedgehog Mushroom
Easy to identify, very tasty, often plentiful - the Hedgehog Mushroom
Some of the Autumn fruit are still good to pick. You won't have you Sloe Gin ready for Christmas if you haven't made it yet, but still make use of the abundant sloes that are about, be it in gin (or vodka) or be different and give sloe jelly a go. In most areas they will have had a frost (a few to come at the weekend) so all the flavour will come out. The frosts will have also helped the Rosehips. Follow any recipe to the letter to avoid the irritant seed hairs (childhood "itching powder"). These make a fine syrup; someone once suggested this would make a brilliant sorbet. Add hot water to the syrup for a vitamin C hit (17 x that of oranges!) to keep the winter colds at bay. You can drizzle the syrup on ice cream, rice pudding, pancakes etc. For an usual angle make a sweet soup (Swedish Nypponsapa) or find a recipe for a savoury version where they replace tomatoes! You should still be able to find firm Crab Apples, even if they are on the ground. While wild fruit or herb jellies are the usual use, try making dried apple rings in your dehydrator / airing cupboard or my favourite - Mark Hix's Parsnip and Crab Apple Soup.
Rosehips - still about. They make excellent cordial / syrup and soups.
Rosehips - still about. They make excellent cordial / syrup and soups.
Lots of wild greens are on the go. The veg plots, pots and greenhouse are a continual source of Hairy Bittercress. With its lovely mild peppery, cress flavour it makes a perfect egg and cress sandwich or livens up a salad. Watercress can be found (cook before eating) in the chalk streams, but a quiet roadside verge or field may have Common Sorrel, Crow Garlic and more.
Watercress - cook before eating to avoid liverfluke!
Watercress - cook before eating to avoid liverfluke!
The coast is always a great place to forage though not in a howling gale with wild seas that steal your crab pot. A bracing coastal stroll may give great grassland fungi where farming has been less intense and should nearly always give a patch or three of my favourite wild veg - Sea Beet. A good Spring tide will give lots of opportunities including shellfish.
Sea Beet - found all year round. My favourite wild veg - as a green, as a soup, curried, in cheesy pancakes...
Sea Beet - found all year round. My favourite wild veg - as a green, as a soup, curried, in cheesy pancakes...

Gift ideas for the forager in your life


Love it or loathe it, it’s just over a month until Christmas. It’s always nice to get gifts that you actually want rather something completely random that your life was already complete without (more socks, hankies etc). If you are a forager, here are a few ideas that you could point your loved one or family towards.


Mushroom knife

Yes, any knife can be used to cut a mushroom, keeping the mud and debris out of your basket (and supper), but one with a brush on the end means you can clean them as you go, giving less work in the kitchen. They come in many shapes and sizes but a nice wooden folding knife does the job and fits easily into a pocket. Do make use of the little hole so you can attach it to a stretchy, spiral lanyard thing and your belt loop and avoid leaving it on the woodland floor (like I do – I lost a book that way once!)

Folding mushroom knife with brush
Folding mushroom knife with brush

Foraging basket

You need a decent container to carry your foraged goodies home – carrier bags just don’t look the part and are no good for mushrooms or where there are thorns around. Go for the traditional look and help keep skilled traditional British crafts going with a beautiful willow basket from the Somerset Levels or a classic chestnut and willow Sussex Trug. Google these terms to buy straight from the craftsman.

A Somerset willow basket with foraged Autumn fare
A Somerset willow basket with foraged Autumn fare
Fungi selection in a lovely Sussex Trug
Fungi selection in a lovely Sussex Trug

Books

You can never have enough books on foraging. There are so many out there with new ones being added. Two you might not have on your bookshelf yet:

Mushrooms – Peter Marren

Mushrooms - Peter Marren

This is not your regular mushroom book. It is NOT a field guide to help with identifying the good guys from the bad guys. It is a lot broader and provides a remarkable insight into the natural and human world of fungi. It is a refreshingly candid view of the diversity of fungi and our relationship with this intriguing group. It explores topics such as the naming of fungi, their importance in natural ecosystems, fungus forays and our ambivalent attitude to edible fungi, as well as recent efforts to record and conserve vulnerable species.

Chapters include:

  • A fungal autobiography
  • Meet the mushrooms
  • What’s in a name?
  • Mushrooms on parade
  • What mushroom is that?
  • Natural habitats
  • In our midst: our fungal neighbours
  • Earthtongues, waxcaps and hedgehogs
  • Scarcity and plenty
  • Forays amongst the funguses
  • The good, the bad and the crazy
  • Picking for the pot
  • Saving mushrooms

According to a review in The independent it is “The greatest book about mushrooms you’ll ever read”.

Buy direct from the publishers for less than Amazon http://www.britishwildlife.com/viewbook.asp?bookid=26

 

Wildcook – ceps, shrubs & rock ‘n’ roll – Garry Eveleigh

Wildcook - Garry Eveleigh

This is not just a foraging field guide but also a great cookery book with lots of wonderful recipes for your foraged ingredients. Garry has concentrated on a selection of his favourites, highlighting what to look for on beaches and foreshores, hedgerows, fields and forests, giving the reader detailed information on where ingredients are found, how to identify them safely, with helpful picking tips and suggestions for their uses. James Golding, a leading chef, has provided the mouth-watering recipes.

Take a look at the accompanying web site to have a peek at the photos and recipes. A friend bought 10 copies for Christmas presents!

Buy direct from the publishers for the same price as Amazon etchttp://wildcook.co.uk/online/buy-the-book

Foraging Course Gift vouchers

You never stop learning about foraging – new habitats, ingredients and recipes. We offer a comprehensive range of half day foraging walks and full day courses to help you learn. They currently cover topics including seashore, seaweeds, fungi, spring greens, hedgerow and “fruit and nut”,

Foraging walks last around 3 hours. We collect seasonal wild foods learning about their identification and uses. As we go we discuss safety, sustainability and legal aspects. There may be some sampling.

Lobster - caught on one of our seashore foraging walks

Day courses generally comprise:

  • A foraging walk collecting a range of seasonal wild foods learning about their identification and uses.
  • An indoor session preparing, cooking and eating a three-course lunch based on our finds (not fungus foray – just sampling).
  • An illustrated talk on wild foods.
Dessert on our summer foraging course
Dessert on our summer foraging course

Hedgerow Harvest foraging course gift vouchers make an ideal present for someone interested in the outdoors and cooking. They are perfect for Christmas, birthdays, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day or a retirement or leaving present. They are redeemable against either:

  • A place on any one of our scheduled foraging day courses
  • A place on any two of our scheduled foraging walks

They cost £80 each (small supplement for vouchers by post) and can be ordered at http://www.hedgerow-harvest.com/gift-vouchers/

If you want to spend more you could have a private foraging event for your friends and family or even a truffle hunting experience day in the UK!

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