Ok I had my mums car yesterday so I decided I would head up the valley to say goodbye to a friend n see my father n grandfather one more time before I leave n maybe just maybe do some foraging on the way to fill the stores before I leave. Surprisingly I ended up with quite a big haul, I went with the intention ov gathering Hawthorn berries n rose hips but ended up with a lot more, on the way I called into the Bushy Park show grounds n in the distance I could see promising bright green patches lying in the low lands in the dappled shade of the weeping willow trees (Salix babylonica) one of my favorite trees, when I got closer I could see a lot of hemlock (Conium maculatum) n my heart sank but on closer inspection I could see there were many young edible plants among the hemlock so I carefully picked what I wanted trying not to touch the hemlock to much as it is very toxic if you have server reactions to hemlock I dont suggest to do this ok.
The plants I gathered all together are as follows- Hawthorn berries (Crataegus monogyna), plantain (Plantago lanceolata), puha (Sonchus sp.), prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola), fat hen (Chenopodium album), mustard greens (Brassica juncea), Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) crab apples n wild apples (Malus sp.).
Ok I’m going to crush n ferment the crab apples n make a wild fermented cider then let it turn into vinegar, I have made the cider before n I love it it is going to be very hard to leave it alone to turn to vinegar but I really want to see how the vinegar will taste so I have to be good n not touch it other than sipping to check how it is progressing that is 😉
I’m drying all the other greens except the fat hen which I’m eating fresh, as usual I will dry n powder the puha n mustard greens for later use but two first’s for me are I’m going to dry the plantain to make a balm later which I will share when done n I’m going to put the dried prickly lettuce into my sleepy time tea as it is known as a sedative.
Now I want to show you guys the difference between the puha n prickly lettuce now I have them together like this, see pic’s below
Ok as you can see the puha on the rite is smooth n the prickly lettuce as the name suggests on the left is very prickly funny that a, jokes aside they are also a completely different shape n I couldn’t find any good pictures on line showing them side by side so there you go.
Now to the Hawthorns wild apples hot relish yummmmmm, I cooked for a few hour today n ended up with a scrumptious relish to take with me, you can just use any relish recipe n replace some ov or all ov the tomatoes in the recipe with the hawthorn pulp, mine is onion, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, curry powder, chilly flakes n spices, this is all fried off then I add the hawthorn pulp n stewed wild apples, vinegar n lemon juice then I simmer this until the onions are all tender then I add raw sugar n boil until thick then bottle. Also I’m drying a heap as you can see in picture with jam below I intend on putting them in my herbal teas.
The Guelder rose is another first for me I spotted it when travelling up for my last visit but forgot to stop n check them out on the way back out ov the valley but I didn’t forget this time. I pulled ova n with my scissors I snipped off the bunches I could reach they were hanging over the fence of someone yard n I was parked on a precarious corner on the road so I had to be quick.
I managed a small basket full enough to experiment with, I wasn’t exactly sure which species I had n I had read one was better tasting than the other so I was hoping for the better one obviously but I think I lucked out with this lot, the difference is hard to distinguish n most say taste is the best indicator one is bitter n one is tart plus what made it harder with these is I think the ones I picked weren’t completely ripe. Unfortunately upon biting into a lovely looking red orange juicy berry I soon realized I didn’t have to nice tart tasting one which is Viburnum trilobum or high bush cranberry, sounds good a, well I had the Viburnum opulus the less desirable one of the two but this didn’t deter me from experimenting with it, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to make a jam n see how it taste now I had them anyway.
It is bitter but it is nowhere near as bitter as rowan berries (Sorbus aucuparia) that people manage to eat n I have tried several times but I just couldn’t stand there bitterness.
I added Chinese five spice, chillie n lemon juice to the fruit pulp to mask some ov the bitterness n I think it worked well, it isn’t one I would be gagging at the bit to make each year but I like it it is unusual n definitely worth making if they are around for something different that is if you like bitter taste which I do.
well that’s it for this one hopefully I will get another blog in before I go I’m hoping for rose hips. 🙂